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Not for the first time in recent years, Andy Murray will be absent from the French Open which begins on Sunday at Roland Garros.

The former world No.1 has missed the tournament five times since reaching the semi-finals in 2017. It is easy to forget just how comfortable Murray had become on clay during a six-year run starting in 2011 Paris when he reached the last four on four occasions and the final once, losing, inevitably, to Novak Djokovic. It is said that he toiled over his decision to withdraw from the second slam of the season, especially since at 36, he knows his next appearance there will most likely be his last.

That match against Djokovic in 2016 was Murray's penultimate grand slam final appearance and was followed a few weeks later by another – his win at Wimbledon over Milos Raonic.

Earlier this week, he announced that he was passing over Roland Garros to keep himself fresh for the grass season and what, ultimately, he believes might be another tilt at glory at SW19.

A few months back, Murray gave air to his belief that his days of winning grand slams are not over – and while that be a matter for conjecture it stands to reason that his best chance will come at the venue where he has won two: the aforementioned 2016 win and in 2013 when overcoming Djokovic.

“I have ambitions of, you know, competing for Wimbledon titles and that sort of stuff, and I know that sitting here today that probably doesn’t sound realistic, but I do believe that that’s a possibility. I obviously want to do the right thing there,” Murray said.

The Herald:

There is merit in his assertion. He reached the third round in Australia having taking the scalp of Matteo Berrettini – a serially tricky opponent who leads the head to head with the Scot 3-2 and who beat him on grass in the final at Halle last summer – and prevailing in a thriller against Thanasis Kokkinakis, a match in which he demonstrated all the old Murray fighting qualities of grit and determination.

Furthermore he is one of only two players who will line-up at Wimbledon on July 3 who has won the tournament – the other being, yes, you guessed it, Djokovic. The Serb is not in his best form as evidenced by his surprise quarter-final exit at the Italian Open last week but remains the most formidable player in world tennis.

It would be a remarkable story were Murray to advance to the latter stages of Wimbledon, of course. No one realistically believes that he has a chance of lifting his third title there – the oldest winner in the modern era is Roger Federer who was 36 when he beat Marin Cilic in the 2017 final – not least Tim Henman who said yesterday: “I think winning it is probably a step too far. But certainly when you reflect on how well he played in Australia and those matches he’s been able to come through, on grass there’s no doubt that he can get into the second week.”

But should he get to that second week, then perhaps anything is possible. Federer was 38 when he reached his last Wimbledon final and while Murray is not Federer, there is no substitute for experience – something Djokovic demonstrated when winning the Australian Open at the start of the year.