Andy Murray says a strong showing at Wimbledon is his top summer priority after deciding to miss the upcoming French Open.
The 2016 runner-up at the Paris Grand Slam event has produced a mixed bag of results on the clay this year, suffering early exits in Rome, Madrid, Monte Carlo and, most recently, Bordeaux.
However, sandwiched between those disappointing performances was a victory at the Challenger Tour event in Aix-en-Provence, his first tournament triumph since 2019.
But despite ending a seven-year wait to win a clay court title, that wasn't enough to persuade to go to the French Open as he looks to get himself fully up to speed on grass ahead of his 15th appearance in the Wimbledon men's singles.
|2023 French Open
|Sunday, 28th May - Sunday, 11th June
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|French Open Odds
|Carlos Alcaraz 5/4, Novak Djokovic 15/8, Holger Rune 7/1, Stefanos Tsitsipas 8/1, Jannik Sinner 14/1, Casper Ruud
Skipping the entire clay court season had been on Murray's mind previously, with the Brit admitting he'd give it careful consideration after he'd lost in straight sets to Alex De Minaur in Monte Carlo in April.
The 36-year-old decided to carry on - but his fortunes didn't improve in Madrid, Andreas Vavassori brushing aside Murray in straight sets.
But then came his success in France, Murray seeing off four competitors from the host nation, including Gael Monfils, before coming from a set down to see off top seed Tommy Paul in the final.
Murray's first Challenger Tour title since 2005 saw him rise to 42nd in the rankings, his highest position since May 2018.
Clay court success has been rare in Murray's career with a win percentage just below the 70% mark and having only won three previous titles on the surface, all of which came during his pomp in 2015 and 2016.
And a return to leaving clay events early after his Aix-en-Provence success has prompted him to opt out of the French Open, despite that meaning missing out on the chance to claim some important ranking points.
Those lost ranking points could end up proving vital to Murray, who currently sits at 41st in the world but is aiming to be seeded for Wimbledon.
He will need to break into the top-32 before the All England Club Slam gets underway on Monday 3rd July to be seeded, although injuries and withdrawals from other players are likely to help his cause.
The two-time Wimbledon champion hasn't mapped out what his entire build-up to returning to SW19 will look like, but he's likely to add more warm-up events to his schedule having only confirmed he'll play at Queen's Club so far.
The British grass season opens with the Surbiton Trophy on 4th June. After Queen's, which runs from 19th-25th June, there's also the Rothesay International at Eastbourne, the last stop before Wimbledon the following week.
Whatever route the three-time Grand Slam champion takes to Wimbledon, he'll hope to find some consistency along the way after an up and down year.
The former world No.1 has shown glimpses of his old self, but has not been able to string together too many performances of the type we came to expect during his peak years.
Still, he spoke in February of his belief that grass offers him his best chance to compete for honours, partly due to so many players not feeling totally at home on the surface.
Some of Murray's best moments have come on grass, including his two Wimbledon titles and a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, also held at SW19.
He's also won five Queen's Club Championships and has an impressive win percentage of 82% on grass.
He's 33/1 to add to his haul of Wimbledon titles this year, but that would mean ending Novak Djokovic's run of four straight men's singles championships, with the Serb is 1/1 to win his eighth All England Club title this year.
Murray still believes he can challenge the likes of Djokovic at Wimbledon, backing himself to stay fit enough to play seven five-set matches if needed, despite his injury history.
The 11-time Grand Slam finalist hasn't made it past the third round in his two previous Wimbledon appearances, but by skipping the French Open, he may have given himself his best chance of giving those on Murray mount and beyond plenty to cheer about.