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Murray Beats Monfils In Fading Light At Roland Garros

Paris, France

Monfils© AFP/Getty ImagesAndy Murray has reached his 14th Grand Slam championship semi-final and his second at Roland Garros (also 2011).

Andy Murray booked his place in the Roland Garros semi-finals on a wet Wednesday in Paris. He will now play top seed and eight-time champion Rafael Nadal.

Seventh seed Murray silenced French supporters by beating No. 23 seed Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 in three hours and 15 minutes. Their first meeting since November 2010, finished at 9:40 p.m. local time.

"It was a hard match," said Murray. "Conditions changed quite a lot during it. It was extremely windy in the beginning, and then it was pretty calm at the end and very slow. It was obviously very cold at the end of the match.

"He really raised his game in the third set. I thought I played a pretty good third set. Fourth set wasn't my best, but it was a fun match."

Watch Murray Highlights

Murray, who reached the last four in 2011 (l. to Nadal), has advanced to a British-record 14th Grand Slam championship semi-final. The 27-year-old Scot is also the 10th man to reach multiple semi-finals at all four majors.

"It's definitely a big achievement, but that's not what I came here to do," he said. "I expect a lot of myself.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well at these events, and thankfully I have done okay so far. Still hopefully a long way to go in the tournament."

He is now two match wins away from 450 victories. Should he reach the milestone in the French capital, he would become the first British man to capture a clay-court singles title since Buster Mottram at 1975 Palma. Fred Perry was the last British man to lift the Roland Garros trophy in 1935.

In their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head clash, contested in windy conditions, Murray broke first in the second game. Happy to rally with Monfils, he waited patiently before making a move to the net that left Monfils hitting a backhand wide. Murray went on to take a 3-0 lead as Monfils appeared to be weighed down by the occasion.

However, in the fifth game, Monfils was awakened by what he considered to be a poor line call. Monfils broke Murray to 30 with a powerful crosscourt forehand winner, before levelling the scoreline at 3-3.

Monfils gifted Murray a set point opportunity at 4-5, 30/30, when he hit a low backhand volley into the net. But a big first serve down the middle, allayed concerns momentarily. Murray clinched the set, which lasted 46 minutes, with a forehand winner to end a 32-stroke rally.

When Monfils hit a forehand wide at 15/40 in the second game of the second set, the Court Philippe Chatrier fell silent. Murray took a 4-0 lead, courtesy of a second break when Monfils mis-timed a backhand.

MonfilsTime, it seemed, was running out for France’s final hope of ending a 31-year wait for a Roland Garros singles champion as he lost his seventh straight game. Monfils avoided a 6-0 set. Murray took control of the match by converting his eighth set point chance to end a 12-minute game.

The crowd revived Monfils at the start of the third set, but Murray was still able to recover from 0/40 in the second game. Monfils had comeback from 0-2 sets down on one occasion, against Thiemo de Bakker in the 2011 Australian Open first round. Could he do so again?

"I could see that the wind was not blowing as hard as it used to in the two first sets," Monfils said of his turnaround. "In the second set I was thinking, 'Well, I hope the wind is gonna calm down.' This is what happened."

Inspired by two successive forehand winners for a 5-4 lead, Monfils grew in confidence. But he could not control himself on two set point opportunities when Murray served at 15/40. However, Murray slapped a backhand into the net to give Monfils the 55-minute set and a major confidence boost.

An aggressive Monfils ran away with the fourth set, attacking at every opportunity as Murray hit his hamstrings with his fist to summon up extra energy. Monfils won 93 per cent of his first service points and hit 13 winners to take the match into a deciding set.

Lapses in concentration by Monfils gifted Murray the decider. In fading light, Murray looked set to contest his second match of the championships over two days. His 12-10 fifth-set victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round had also been carried over to a second day.

Monfils, MurrayBut Monfils won just six points in the 24-minute fifth set. Murray can now prepare for a semi-final clash against Nadal, conqueror of David Ferrer in four sets, on Friday.

"I didn't win the first game when I was in a position to win it, and then I rushed it," admitted the Frenchman. "I tried my forehand and my shots were out, and then it went very fast."

It was Monfils’ 50th loss to a member of the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He dropped to a 21-9 record on the 2014 season.

Monfils had been bidding to equal his best Grand Slam championship result. In 2008, he fell to Roger Federer in the Roland Garros semi-finals. 

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