Murray endures ‘scrappy match’ to face Nadal

Andy Murray

Andy Murray faces defending champion in Friday’s semi-final at Roland Garros

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 09:56 ON Thu 2 Jun 2011

Andy Murray overcame Juan Ignacio Chela on Wednesday at the French Open to set up a semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Friday. On a blustery Paris afternoon Murray made hard work of defeating the 31-year-old Argentine, winning in three tense sets to become the first Briton since Tim Henman in 2004 to reach the last four of the French Open.

"It was just very up and down," said Murray of the quarter-final encounter. "The wind obviously doesn't help, but it was just a really scrappy match."

It's the first time the 24-year-old Murray has made it this far in Paris and thankfully there was no recurrence in his three-hour victory of the ankle injury he suffered last week. "It's [the ankle] definitely getting better with each day," he said later. "You gain confidence more with the movement each time."

He planned to spend the time before Friday's encounter doing "all the right things... a lot of treatment, a lot of icing, and I'm sure it will get better."

Friday – Nadal's 25th birthday - will mark their sixth meeting in a Grand Slam tournament. Nadal, defending champion at Roland Garros, leads the head-to-heads 3-2, having triumphed twice at Wimbledon and at the 2007 Australian Open.

Murray for his part got the better of Nadal at the 2010 Australian Open and 2008 US Open. The last time they faced one another was Wimbledon last year, when Nadal won the semi-final tie in three sets on his way to the title.

In his quarter-final match, Nadal cruised to a three-set win, brushing aside the challenge of Swede Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-1, 7-6.  "I played a very good level and Robin maybe made more mistakes than usual," Nadal said afterwards. "I have to be playing better and better every day if I want to have chances to win the final and that's what I'm going to try."

Murray will go into Friday's semi-final as underdog, but in his column for the BBC Sport website he outlined how he'll approach the game. "Patience is the key when you play Rafa," writes Murray. "His ball is very heavy, so it's really difficult to go for shots straight off the bat. You need to work the ball very well and when you get the right chance - go for it." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.