• French Open

Murray roars into semi-final against Nadal

ESPN staff
June 4, 2014
Andy Murray let a two-set lead against Gael Monfils slip but came through 6-0 in the decider © Getty Images

Andy Murray came through another five-set epic at the French Open as he saw off the challenge of home favourite Gael Monfils to book a date with defending champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

It was one way traffic almost throughout the first two sets as Murray silenced Court Philippe Chatrier, with Monfils looking down and out before engineering a stunning comeback to level the match.

Murray banking on Italian lessons

  • Andy Murray believes he can topple Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open if he applies the lessons learnt from their super-charged meeting at the Rome Masters.
  • Click here to continue reading

However Murray proceeded to produce what surely must be his best ever set on clay, at just the right time. A crucial hold and then an even more important break gave Murray the momentum again.

Another break put him 4-0 up and he saw out the set to love, reaching his second ever Roland Garros semi-final with a 6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0 win.

"I started well," said Murray. "When the wind calmed down he started playing so much better - some of the shots he chased down were incredible.

"I was just lucky in the end that he started the fifth set badly."

The match finished in near darkness at 21:40 local time after three hours and 15 minutes.

"It was getting a bit dark, we couldn't see all that well, but I I really wanted to finish tonight because I knew that he was not in great shape," said Monfils.

"I felt better. Maybe that's why I was a bit rushed in attacking him. I'm very frustrated."

In the first set, Murray secured an early break as he stormed into a 3-0 lead, though was pegged back to 3-3.

Andy Murray reached his second semi-final at Roland Garros © Getty Images

However another crucial break at 5-4 gave him the first set before he blew Monfils away in the second. Murray stepped things up a gear, a double break helping him towards a 5-0 lead before Monfils finally broke his duck in the second set, Murray blowing three set points.

Having showed incredible sportsmanship in his last-16 win over Fernando Verdasco when he conceded a point that had been called out, Murray did the same again after a boll rolled out of his pocket mid-point.

That handed Monfils a break point at 5-1 down, but Murray showed resolve to eventually hold and take a two-set lead.

Monfils gave his home crowd crowd something to cheer about as he made more of a fist of it in the third set, which stayed on serve for the first eight games.

The Frenchan held and then earned two set points as the pressure mounted on Murray. Monfils wasted both, but Murray offered him up a third and then sent a forehand into the net.

The match had fully turned on its head when Monfils broke for 3-1 in the fourth set. Murray had no answers as Monfils broke again and held serve to level the match.

Having seen his third-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber suspended on Saturday and taken into a second day, a repeat looked to be on the cards for Murray.

Referee Stefan Fransson came onto court to assess the light at 21:20 local time and decided play should carry on - a decision described as "ridiculous" by Murray.

With Monfils holding all the momentum, a crucial hold got Murray off to the perfect start in the decider however before an even bigger break put him in control.

He consolidated his lead with another hold as Monfils' body language dropped again, before earning three break points. Monfils saved two but sent a forehand long and Murray broke again.

Murray saw it out from there, sealing the win in emphatic fashion by taking the final set 6-0.

Rafael Nadal saw off David Ferrer in four sets © Getty Images

His reward is a semi-final against Nadal, who was briefly in a difficult spot against David Ferrer.

For the first time in this year's tournament, Nadal dropped a set. And this had to be on Nadal's mind: His opponent could present real problems. Not only is Ferrer the world No.5, and not only was he the runner-up at Roland Garros a year ago - to Nadal, of course - but he also beat Nadal on clay the last time they played each other.

So how did Nadal handle this test? Perfectly. From late in the second set, he won 10 games in a row, and 13 of 14 the rest of the way, to come back and beat Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-0 6-1.

"At the beginning," Nadal acknowledged, "David was playing with a higher intensity than me."

But once Nadal made a key adjustment, deciding to dispense with backhands and hit forehands as much as possible, he took over. After committing 28 unforced errors across the first two sets, Nadal had none in the third, and only three in the last.

Ferrer, for his part, said that in the latter stages, "I lost my concentration, my focus".

It was Nadal's 33rd consecutive win at the French Open and improved his record in the event to 64-1.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close