ROLAND GARROS 2011
Murray Beats Veteran Chela To Complete Top 4 Semi-Final Line-Up
by James Buddell|
The fourth-seeded Scot defeated Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday to emulate Tim Henman's run to the semi-finals in 2004. The last British man to reach the final was Henry "Bunny" Austin in 1937.
“I'm surprised I'm here, to be honest, because I haven't actually played that well,” admitted Murray. “Aside from everything else that's happened, I haven't played particularly well. That's a very good sign for me, because a few months ago I was not playing well and losing badly. I haven't been playing that well. I'm in the semis of a slam. That's a good sign.
“Glad that I'm here, but I've got two days to rest up, recover, and get ready for Rafa, which is always one of the most exciting matches for me on the tour.”
Murray, who is taking medication to ease the pain of an ankle ligament tear, was the first to come under pressure. In the third game he saved one break point with a 130 miles per hour first serve, but over-hit a drop shot that Chela chased down with ease. Chela took a 4-1 lead when Murray hit a forehand pass beyond the baseline at 30/40.
Just as he had against Viktor Troicki, Murray rose to the challenge. In winning five of the next six games, he saved two set points at 3-5, 15/40 with blistering serves and two break points at 5-5, 15/40. After 63 minutes of play, a tie-break decided the set. Murray won four straight points from 1-1 and on his first set point opportunity at 6-2, Chela under-hit a lobbed backhand short of the net.
Murray maintained his momentum in the second set as Chela's failure to win the first set appeared to be played out in his mind. The World No. 4 continued to attack, cleverly crafting his forays to the net. He got to 5-1 courtesy of service breaks in the first, fifth and seventh games, but squandered two match point opportunities with a double fault and a backhand volley into the net.
Five minutes later, Murray failed to convert a third set point. Chela's struck a precision drop shot that Murray netted. The Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd rose as one in appreciation of the Argentine's fight back. Forcing Murray to close out the set, Chela appeared galvanised by his opponent's failure to get first serves into the court. Chela broke for 5-5, when Murray over-hit a forehand at 30/40. In crisis, Murray regrouped and won the baseline battle in the next game. He went onto close out the 68-minute set with an ace in a hold to 30.
Murray broke to love at the start of the third set, but 31-year-old Chela continued to fight, attempting to extend his eight-match winning streak. At 4-2, Murray won five straight points from 0/40 to break Chela's serve with a drive-volley winner. In a testing final game, Murray was forced to save one break point but hit an ace. On his first match point, two points later, he executed a perfect drop shot. Chela didn't bother running for it.
“It's a good result, but I obviously want to go further,” said Murray. “It's not worth going through what I've gone through the last four or five days to just sort of be happy getting to the semis.”
The last British man to win a title on clay was Buster Mottram at 1976 Palma. Fred Perry is the only British man to win the Roland Garros title in 1935.
Chela, a former World No. 15, was attempting to reach a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time.
"It was a very good tournament for me,” he said. “It's the second time I've reached the quarter-final here and the third time I'm in a quarter-final of a Grand Slam tournament. I didn't expect that in my career. I'm very pleased. Of course I'm just coming out of the match right now and I'm still under the feeling that I lost, but I believe I will leave this tournament with a positive feeling."