ATP Rome Masters: Andy Murray retires from latest match with lower back injury
Last Updated: 15/05/13 10:30pm
Andy Murray: Retired injured against Marcel Granollers
A wounded Andy Murray made an early exit at the ATP Rome Masters after retiring injured at the start of the third set against Spain's Marcel Granollers.
The world No 2 didn't have too much to celebrate on his 26th birthday as he struggled throughout the second round contest with an injury to his lower back.
And after winning the second set on a tie-break, he immediately called time before trudging off the court a disconsolate figure.
He grimaced with pain on a number of occasions throughout the contest and, although he fought valiantly, with the score at 6-3 6-7 (5-7) Granollers was awarded the win in one hour and 50 minutes.
It was a worrying sign for Murray in the last major warm-up event ahead of the French Open, which begins a week on Sunday in Paris.
The 37-ranked doubles specialist Granollers made the all-important break in the sixth game thanks to a love game before successfully holding to move within a game of winning the first set.
Murray, who was knocked out by Czech Tomas Berdych at last week's Madrid Open, struggled to cope with the damp and gusty conditions on the Campo Centrale.
He did make Granollers have to serve out the opening set after holding, but the 27-year-old from Barcelona did so with aplomb after 34 minutes.
The Spaniards' biggest title to date came at last year's ATP World Tour finals when he walked away with the doubles crown with partner Marc Lopez, but he was making Murray look ordinary.
Granollers, who overcame veteran Nikolay Davydenko in the opening round, was using his doubles skills to great effect by winning the majority of his points at the net and volleying well.
And he made a confident start to the second set by breaking in an epic opening game thanks to a clinical crosscourt passing shot, but there were breaks in the next two games as the players struggled in the tough conditions.
The reigning US Open champion, who is still looking for his first clay court final appearance, took an injury timeout before the fourth game, but the medical attention did nothing to help his progress as he lost ten points in a row to go 4-1 down.
Despite that, Murray still managed to level the set after showing some excellent fighting spirit and injecting more pace into his shots.
He wasted a set-point opportunity at 6-5 as it went to a tie-break, but despite winning it 7-5, he immediately shook his opponent's hand before pulling out.