Playing the Latvian Ernests Gulbis in an exhibition tournament might not seem the best preparation for the French Open, but with the year's second Grand Slam tournament starting on Sunday Andy Murray was happy to get a practice match under his belt yesterday.
Gulbis, one of the ultimate exponents of hit-and-miss, beat Murray 7-6, 7-6 at the Masters Guinot Mary Cohr event at the swish Paris Country Club, after which the Scot headed for the practice courts at Roland Garros.
Murray has been training in Paris since Sunday, when his coach, Ivan Lendl, arrived. The Scot said there had been an improvement in the back problem which has troubled him off and on since December.
"I feel better than I did a few weeks ago," he said. "I need to get some matches and some good practice under my belt. I've also done some good work in the gym as well to try to strengthen some things."
When the draw is made today Murray will be the lone Briton in the men's singles. Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong are in the main draw in the women's event and could be joined by two more Britons, Heather Watson and Laura Robson, who both reached the final round of qualifying yesterday.