BRITISH No1 Andy Murray yesterday exited the French Open at the quarter-final stage after a 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2 defeat to Spain’s David Ferrer inspired largely by the Scot’s erratic performance.
Murray carelessly hit 59 unforced errors and though his demeanour suggested a genuine desire to advance to the tournament’s final four against Ferrer’s compatriot Rafael Nadal, a lack of focus consistently undermined his approach.
Ferrer now has four consecutive clay-court victories over the world No4 but if there was a positive to be taken, it was that Murray forced the impressive Spaniard to drop his first French Open set of 2012.
“I think he’s one of the toughest guys to play on any surface,” Murray had said of his opponent in the build up to yesterday’s game, and so it began to prove when Ferrer raced into a 5-2 lead and took the first set in 66 minutes.
Though Murray’s momentum had built after edging the second set after a tie-break, a brief rainfall prompted a break in play and thereafter Ferrer took control, repeatedly punishing Murray’s subsequent lack of concentration to seal a semi-final spot without ever appearing at risk of dropping a second set.
“I thought I played some good tennis tonight,” said Murray. “I just didn’t convert. I had a lot of chances in the last couple of sets on his serve and I lost a lot of really long games on my serve, which didn’t help.
“He obviously broke me a lot of times the last couple of sets. I had chances to break him and didn’t convert them like he did.”
Despite his disappointment, Murray insisted this year’s performance at Roland Garros – traditionally his worst of Tennis’s four Majors – gave him some satisfaction while readily accepting that Ferrer is simply better suited to clay.
“I think it was a good tournament for me,” he added. “Coming in, I probably wasn’t feeling as good as I did last year. I believe I lost to a better clay-court player than me.
“I’ll need to work on my clay-court game for next year. But it’s not the first time he’s won against me on clay. It was going to be a tough match for me, and it proved that way.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Russia’s second seed Maria Sharapova defeated Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-2, 6-3 to secure a semi-final meeting with the Czech Petra Kvitova.
The French Open remains the only grand slam to elude Sharapova but she immediately targeted tournament victory, even though she recognises the difficulty of defeating the Wimbledon champion.
“I really hope that the win can come this year,” said Sharapova, who will become the world No1 as long as she reaches the final. “My preparation has been really good – it was nice to win two tournaments coming in. I’m happy with the way I’ve improved, but it only gets tougher from here.”
Samantha Stosur (6) vs Sara Errani (21)
Petra Kvitova (4) vs Maria Sharapova (2)
Women’s doubles draw
Maria Kirilenko/ vs Andrea Hlavackova/
Nadia Petrova (7)vs Lucie Hradecka (5)
Men’s doubles draw
Max Mirnyi/ vs Daniele Bracciali/
Daniel Nestor (1) Potito Starace (14)