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French Open 2014: Murray breaks British Slam semi record

Andy Murray thanks the Centre Court crowd for their support
by Leigh Walsh
Thursday 5 June 2014

Wimbledon.com's highlights as the final semi-finalists are decided at the 2014 French Open at Roland Garros 

There was once a time when Andy Murray couldn’t make it through a tournament without the name Fred Perry being mentioned to him. Now, such is the level the 27-year-old Scot has risen to, it would appear the great Perry has been resigned to history.

On Wednesday, Murray advanced to his 14th Grand Slam semi-final and second in Paris with a topsy-turvy 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 victory over Frenchman Gael Monfils. The fact that he took sole ownership of the record for most major semi-final appearances by a British man – surpassing Fred Perry on 13 – went unnoticed.

Rarely does sport see momentum shifts quite like the ones produced during a five-set tennis match. And Murray’s quarter-final encounter with Monfils was defined by surges and slumps, both dramatic and unexpected in equal measures.

After opening up a two-set lead against Monfils, who was looking to become just the second Frenchman to reach multiple semi-finals at Roland Garros, Murray appeared to have one foot in the semi-final. Just 85 minutes later, it was two sets apiece.

Amid fading light at the start of the fifth set Murray rose while Monfils retreated, and the two-time Grand Slam champion reeled off six games in a row to clinch the win in three hours and 15 minutes.

Murray and clay haven’t had the smoothest relationship. It’s the only surface he hasn’t won a title on and Roland Garros is the only Slam at which he has yet to see the final day. But the British No. 1 has shown enough over the last 10 days to suggest eight-time champion Rafael Nadal won’t have it all his own way in the semi-final.

Over on Court Suzanne Lenglen the Spaniard saw off compatriot David Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 in a re-match of last year’s final. His win-loss record at the French Open is now 64-1 with his only defeat coming to Robin Soderling in 2009. Further to that, the 28 year old is 87-1 in best of five set matches on clay.

The remaining two spots in the women’s semi-final were also filled on Wednesday as the exciting duo of Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep joined Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard in the final four.

Petkovic fired 26 winners past former finalist Sara Errani to advance to her maiden Grand Slam semi-final with a 6-2, 6-2 victory. She is also the first German to reach the final four in Paris since Steffi Graf lifted the title in 1999.

Petkovic is projected to return to the top 20 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday. It will be the first time the German, who suffered a spate of knee injuries in recent years, has appeared in the top 20 since August 2012. She could rise as high as No. 11 if she wins the title.

Next up for the 26-year-old is world No. 4 Simona Halep, who is also contesting her first major semi-final.

The talented Romanian dispatched of 2009 Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-2 in the quarter-final, breaking the Russian’s serve six times.

Pekovic and Halep meet for the fourth time, with the Romanian having won two of their previous three encounters.

They Said

“I was just overwhelmed by emotion. I had no boy to kiss, so I kissed my racquet, right?” – Petkovic explains her post-win celebration

“No. It's definitely a big achievement, but that's not what I came here to do. My expectations are different to a lot of people” – Murray puts to bed suggestions that his semi-final run has exceeded expectations.

“It was very fast. You know, very fast. I start to miss a lot of balls. I felt not bad, so it was a very strange feeling. Very strange” – Monfils doesn’t quite know what went wrong in the fifth set.

“[It] would be real arrogance if I said yes to that. When you play a match against a big player like David Ferrer, you think about point by point and try to be an advantage” – Nadal says the fading light wasn’t a reason behind his aggressive tennis.

“Never. I have one game [that] I try to always do on court. I watch just my matches (smiling)” – Halep has no time for watching her opponents play.

“I was the happiest when I was in the top 10 and was one of the top players, and then it was just taken away from me. I'm just so scared that it might slip away again” – Petkovic on how her injuries have affected her mentally

 

Follow the French Open live on ITV and at rolandgarros.com


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