BRITAIN’S Andy Murray admits his French Open title bid is dependent on breaking the clay-court spell which Spain’s David Ferrer currently exerts over him when the duo meet in tomorrow’s quarter-final.
Third seed Murray secured his 17th consecutive appearance in the last eight of a grand slam with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over France’s Jeremy Chardy yesterday, on a day when fellow tournament favourites Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also progressed.
The 28-year-old’s route to the semi-final is blocked by seventh seed Ferrer, who dispatched Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the fourth round. But while Murray enjoys a favourable 9-6 overall head-to-head record against the Spaniard, he has never beaten him on clay.
Murray has lost all four of his previous clashes with Ferrer on the surface, including their quarter-final showdown at Roland Garros in 2012 when the world No3 was dispatched in four sets.
“I now play Ferrer, someone I’ve never beaten on clay before and have lost to at the French Open once,” said Murray, who last failed to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam in 2010 following defeat to Stan Wawrinka at the US Open.
“I’m going to have to play fantastic tennis against him because he’s a fantastic player.
“I felt like I played a good match today. I was hitting the ball well, there were a lot of good rallies and I needed to play well today. It gets tougher every match.”
The omens appeared good for Murray heading into the clash with Chardy, having not lost to a player with a lower standing than the Frenchman, who is ranked No45 in the world, for nine years.
He also arrived holding an 11-1 win-loss record against players at their home grand slam, with his sole defeat coming at the 2006 French Open when he was overpowered by Gael Monfils.
After Chardy won five of six games to take the second set and gain an early break in the third, his resurgence subsided as Murray regained control, while his rival continued to be dogged by service inconsistencies and double faults.
Former Wimbledon champion Murray became more expansive as proceedings neared their conclusion and wrapped up victory in two hours and 51 minutes to claim a 14th successive clay-court success in 2015.
World No1 Djokovic, meanwhile, powered into the quarter-finals courtesy of a resounding straight-sets triumph over Richard Gasquet, and now faces defending champion Rafael Nadal in a repeat of last year’s final.
Nine-time winner Nadal sealed his progress with a 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over American Jack Sock. The winners of the Murray-Ferrer quarter-final will be pitched against the victors of the Djokovic-Nadal tussle in the last four.
World No2 Federer continued his quest to build on his 2009 French Open title by breezing into an 11th Roland Garros quarter-final after defeating 13th seed Monfils 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. He will face Swiss Davis Cup team-mate Wawrinka in the last eight.