It was never going to be walk in the park for Andy Murray who faced local Parisian and notorious dancer Gael Monfils on Phillipe Chatrier in the quarter final of the French Open. However, the ever so agile Monfils would need more than a partisan crowd to secure a semi-final place as Murray battled through to win 6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0.
Murray started the match how he finished the last, breaking serve for a 3-0 lead with the use of some skillfully crafted dropshots. The Frenchman struggled to contain his anger, shouting into the crowd words that aren’t covered in your typical GCSE French syllabus. He managed to apply his frustration into a smarter construction of points and equaled the match at 3-3 and the two players comfortably held their service games until Monfils succumbed to the pressure at 4-5.Murray appeared on track for a comfortable straight-sets victory when he finally closed out a 13-minute game on set point number eight to clinch the second set.
Monfils had other ideas though as an invigorated crowd and a declining wind allowed him to find some form absent in the second set. With an increase of sloppy errors from Murray at 4-4 in the third, there were signs of agitation with the crowd from the passionate Brit who was evidently keen to complete the match. Multiple unforced errors on his own serve caused him the third set as Monfils carried on the momentum to also win the fourth with a dominant display of tennis. It was an agonizing set for Murray who repeatedly got himself to within game point situations but then generously allowed Monfils back in it.
In a bizarre turn of events that makes the game of tennis so unlike any other sport; the momentum swung drastically in Murray’s favour in the fifth set as he only conceded a total of seven points. He incredibly wrapped up a deciding set in just over 20 minutes as he overwhelmed a dejected Monfils to win in five and his prize; to face eight-time champion, Rafael Nadal in the semi-final on Friday. Murray will definitely need to take some of the fight he displayed in this five set thriller to contend with the King of clay but as one of the greatest tacticians in the men’s game he certainly has the tools to reverse his 0-5 record on clay against the Spaniard.
Image rights; Andrea Albertino.