SHOULD Britain’s Andy Murray beat world No1 Rafael Nadal in today’s French Open semi-final it will represent an achievement that arguably surpasses even last year’s historic Wimbledon success.
Following Wednesday’s quarter-final victory against Gael Monfils, Murray said equalling his finest ever run at Roland Garros was nothing to celebrate. But should he conquer the King of Clay, the Scotsman would be due not just a glass of champagne, but a Nebuchadnezzar.
While Murray’s record on clay is modest, Nadal’s is stupendous. The Spanish superstar has won eight of the last nine French Open titles and in 65 matches at the grand slam has lost only once.
Nadal has 44 career clay court titles in his gigantic trophy cabinet and has beaten Murray in all five meetings on the surface, including the 2011 French Open semi-final and at this year’s Rome Masters quarter-final.
The 28-year-old also has an outstanding record in grand slam semi-finals, winning 19 of 22, and is chasing a 14th Major trophy that would put him level with American great Pete Sampras.
Murray, by contrast, has never reached the final of a clay court tournament and has enjoyed a gruelling run so far in Paris.
None of the remaining semi-finalists have spent more time on court – almost 15 hours – with the world No8 having come through two five-set epics.
Nadal has dropped just a single set so far, but four defeats from his last seven matches against top-10 ranked opposition will be a crumb of comfort for Murray, who will rise to No4 in the world with victory.