Murray hopeful as he powers into French Open semi-finals
World number one makes it four semi-finals in a row at Roland Garros, but can he finally win on clay?
Andy Murray reached his fourth consecutive French Open semi-final with a four sets victory over Kei Nishikori in Paris on Wendesday.
The world number one avoided the fate of Novak Djokovic - the man who beat Murray in the final at Roland Garros last year - who was accused of "tanking" in his defeat to Austria's Dominic Thiem earlier in the day, and the Scot will now face Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka in the last four.
"Stan has played fantastic this tournament so far," said Murray of his next opponent who, at 32, is the oldest man to reach a French Open semi-final since Jimmy Connors in 1985. "Last year when we met [in the semi-final] he was playing very well and I had to play one of my best matches on clay to beat him. It's not always been easy for me here but the last few years have been great."
On a blustery day in Paris, Murray struggled to find his rhythm the way he had in his previous matches at the tournament, but eventually overcame the Japanese eighth seed in four sets, winning 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-0) 6-1.
The 27-year-old Nishikori broke serve twice to take the first set with alarming ease, his groundstrokes too much for the Scot.
As is often the case with Murray it required a sense of injustice to unlock his best shots and on this occasion it came courtesy of a time violation from umpire Carlos Ramos. Penalised a loss of serve by the official, an angry Murray remonstrated with Ramos about the decision and later explained that he had simply missed a ball toss as he prepared to serve.
"Obviously for a couple of points after that I was fired up, because I was frustrated at that moment," said Murray. "It felt to me like it was a strange decision. I have never seen anyone get a warning after they have missed the ball toss. So I was frustrated about it."
Taking out his irritation on Nishikori, Murray began to dominate his opponent, whose service then started to let him down. Having levelled the match by winning the second set 6-1, Murray won the third set on a tie-break and romped home in the fourth, 6-1.
Asked about his chances of going on to win the French Open, a major that has hitherto eluded him, Murray said: "I probably need to play better than I did today, but you never know. Sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do to win the match. It's not always about how well that you play or the level that you play at... but with the right attitude, right game plan, right tactics, you can still win matches."