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Murray: Half-fit Nadal still French Open favourite

ESPN staff
May 15, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray is still awaiting that big win on a clay court © AP
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British No. 1 Andy Murray has admitted that a half-fit Rafael Nadal is still favourite for the French Open.

Clay court specialist Nadal has reached the final of all seven of the tournaments in which he has competed since returning from injury - winning five, including last weekend at the Madrid Open.

The seven-time Roland Garros champion admitted on Tuesday he has only been practicing for half as long as he did before his latest knee injury, and Murray says the gap in class between Nadal and everyone else on the clay surface means that missing most of the 2012 season won't affect the Spaniard.

"Rafa's record on clay was incredible before the injury and I expected him to come back and play well," Murray, who turned 26 on Wednesday, told the Daily Record.

"On clay he was quite far ahead of the rest of the pack so when he came back, even though his level maybe dropped a bit, once he starts to play more and more matches he's going to get up to that level.

"His consistency's been very impressive since he's come back. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain that because it's not easy."

Meanwhile, Murray hopes a reduced schedule for the 2013 season will allow him to find the right balance as he prepares for the second grand slam of the year.

The Scot, whose best result in the French Open is a semi-final finish in 2011, faces Nadal's compatriot Marcel Granollers on Wednesday in the second round of the ATP Rome Masters, and coach Ivan Lendl has him on a careful regime mixing hard practice with plenty of rest.

"Because the tournaments are so close to each other it's important to get rest so that once you get to the French Open you aren't burnt out or tired because the matches are obviously over five sets," Murray told Sky Sports.

"You need to make sure you use your days as best as you can, train hard when you have the chance to, but go easy when you have to.

"I spent a lot of time after [the Madrid Open] practicing hard because I had two weeks before my next event. But then just now, the days between the tournaments you stay in a rhythm but not overdo it. It's tough to find that balance sometimes."

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