• French Open

Murray prepares to face 'best athlete in tennis'

ESPN staff
June 3, 2014
Andy Murray is unfazed over which court he faces Gael Monfils on © Getty Images

Andy Murray believes he will be going up against the best athlete in tennis when he takes on Gael Monfils for a place in the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Murray, 27, put in his best performance of the tournament on Monday in a gruelling 6-4 7-5 7-6(3) win against Fernando Verdasco that lasted nearly three hours on Suzanne Lenglen.

Next up is home favourite Monfils, Murray's old junior rival whom he first met when he was 10 years old and has been friends with ever since.

Tale of the tape

Andy Murray leads Gael Monfils 3-2 head-to-head © AP
  • Andy Murray v Gael Monfils

  • 27 Age 27

    2005 Turned pro 2004

    6'3" Height 6'4"

    28 Career titles 5

    £18 million Prize money £4 million

    443/140 Won/lost 294/175

    3 Head-to-head 2

  • 2010 Paris Masters - Monfils 6-2 2-6 6-3
  • 2010 Canada Masters - Murray 6-2 0-6 6-3
  • 2008 Madrid Masters - Murray 6-2 6-2
  • 2006 Roland Garros - Monfils 6-4 6-7(2) 1-6 6-2 6-1
  • 2006 German Open - Murray 6-4 6-1

"He's a great athlete - maybe the best we have had in tennis, said Murray. "It's going to be an exciting match. I'm sure there will be some fun rallies - there always are when I have played against him.

"I think in the grand slams he's played his best tennis here by far. He loves playing in front of a big crowd. Gael has always been a great entertainer and he's great for the sport."

Murray will be playing on Philippe Chatrier - Roland Garros' equivalent of Wimbledon's Centre Court - for the first time, given Monfils is the last remaining Frenchman in the draw.

Which means defending and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal's clash against David Ferrer - a repeat of last year's final - will be played on Suzanne Lenglen.

Through to the last eight at Roland Garros for the fourth time and into a 13th successive grand slam quarter-final, Murray was enjoying his first day off in four on Tuesday. His dramatic third-round win against Philipp Kohlschreiber stretched into Sunday, having been suspended for bad light at 7-7 in the fifth set.

"I was tired after the match against Kohlschreiber," said Murray. "It was a long match. It was mentally draining as well when you don't have that day to recover and you're coming back on court at 7-7.

"I dictated as many points as I could [against Verdasco]. It's not always possible because you're playing against top tennis players. He's got a lot of firepower as well. I did a good job of that."

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