French Open 2014: Andy Murray through to semi-finals after beating Gael Monfils
Last Updated: 06/06/14 3:06pm
Andy Murray shrugged off the disappointment of surrendering a two-set lead against Gael Monfils to secure a remarkable 6-4 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-0 victory and reach the semi-finals of the French Open.
Murray now faces Rafael Nadal in the final four of the tournament and the Spaniard will be the favourite to progress as he possesses a 14-5 record against the Scot.
The reigning Wimbledon champion needed two breaks of serve in the opening set to triumph 6-4 and he dominated the second, eventually taking the set 6-1 despite a late blip.
It was on serve after nine games of the third set with a break of Murray's serve in the tenth ensuring Monfils avoided a straight sets defeat.
I started well but when the wind died down he began to play so much better. He's such an amazing athlete. I was lucky that he started the fifth set badly.
Murray on Monfils win
With nothing to lose Monfils looked a transformed player with unforced errors from Murray did little to aid the cause while the crowd were now firmly behind the Frenchman.
Monfils, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2008, maintained his form into the fourth with Murray seemingly unable to stem the tide as the 27-year-old romped home 6-1.
Murray was hoping the fading light would halt proceedings before the start of the fifth, however the light remained good enough for the match to continue.
Murray was made to play on and after fighting hard to hold his opening serve what followed no one predicted. Monfils' confidence eroded and errors enabled Murray to ease home to love.
"It was very tough conditions. It was very windy at the start. I started well but when the wind died down he began to play so much better. He's such an amazing athlete. I was lucky that he started the fifth set badly," commented Murray.
Murray was ready to be the villain for the French crowd, who have been waiting for a home men's champion since Yannick Noah's triumph in 1983.
Murray made an excellent start. He was striking the ball if anything even better than he had in his fourth-round win over Fernando Verdasco, particularly on the backhand side.
He stormed into a 3-0 lead with a flurry of winners only to be pegged back by Monfils, who Murray described before the match as possibly the best athlete in tennis history.
In the seventh game Monfils even played a left-handed forehand to help him reach the ball, and made the shot.
But Murray was the one in control of most of the rallies and a combination of a backhand down the line and a forehand cross court helped him break the Monfils serve again and take the set.
Murray looked like a man completely sure of his game plan and, as in the first set, he raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second, toying with Monfils as if he was attached to a piece of string.
That quickly became 5-0 and the Scot should have chalked up a love set but fluffed three set points.
Having dominated the set, clinching it proved a little tortuous for Murray, who missed four more set points in a long service game.
There was then controversy when a ball fell out of Murray's pocket and, after Monfils protested the umpire Jake Garner's call of let with the crowd whistling and jeering, the seventh seed gave the point to his opponent.
Murray eventually clinched the set at the eighth attempt. But the match was about to change. The momentum shift began in the first game of the third set, when Monfils saved three break points.
Murray did the same in the next game but it was a tight set, both men holding their serves, and when Monfils made it 5-4, he whipped the crowd up.
Murray saved two set points, he could not save a third. The Scot now seemed to be struggling physically and Monfils dominated the fourth set to level the match.
Murray wanted to stop there, telling tournament referee Stefan Fransson "that's ridiculous" when it was put to him that he had to carry on.
Having held the opening game, Murray let out a yell of 'come on', but the Scot surely would not have expected what followed, with Monfils winning just seven points in the final set.