French Open: Andy Murray win sets up Rafael Nadal semi

French Open

Venue:
Roland Garros, Paris
Date:
22 May-5 June
Coverage:
Watch live on BBC Two, Red Button/online (UK only) & text commentary (#bbctennis) on BBC Sport website from 1300 BST; daily highlights programme on BBC Two; updates & commentary on BBC Radio 5 live/5 live sports extra

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Battling Murray into semi-finals

British number one Andy Murray made it through to the French Open semi-finals for the first time, with a tense, straight-sets win against Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela.

Playing on Court Suzanne Lenglen for the third day in succession, the fourth seed battled past Chela 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 6-2 in two hours, 53 minutes to set up a semi-final against five-time champion Rafael Nadal on Friday.

Murray will now try to improve on the last time a Briton reached the semis in Paris, when Tim Henman lost to Guillermo Coria in 2004.

After a dramatic five-set win against Viktor Troicki in the previous round and the continuing worry of an ankle injury picked up earlier in the tournament, a straight-sets win was very welcome for the world number four, but the tally of games won and lost gives little clue to the drama of the match.

With a 6-1 head-to-head record against Chela, including victories at Roland Garros in the last two years, Murray was a strong favourite to make the last four and so complete his set of Grand Slam semi-finals.

But it was another windy day in Paris, a fourth match out of five on Lenglen, and another contest of sharply shifting momentum before the Scot eventually prevailed, seemingly with no reaction from the troublesome right ankle.

Having lost the first five games against Troicki, he started slowly again, dropping serve twice in the opening five games, as the blustery conditions appeared to trouble him and falling 4-1 behind, as the 31-year-old world number 34 played much the more solid tennis.

Murray, 24, has played his best when behind over the last week and a half, though, and that was the case again as he chipped away at the Argentine's lead, grabbing one of the breaks back in game six and then levelling at 5-5 after Chela double-faulted on set point.

A moment of indecision under a smash almost cost Murray dear in the next game but he recovered well from 15-40 to hold, and when the set came down to a tie-break, the Scot dominated, taking five points in a row with several piercing backhands down the line, sealing it 7-2.

With an immediate break at the start of the second, all looked well for Murray, more so when some pounding forehands brought up a point for the double break and Chela, again, double-faulted to slip 4-1 down.

The pair swapped further breaks but Murray was cruising when serving for the set at 5-2, only to throw in a double fault of his own on his first set point and then clip the tape with a volley on the stretch on his second chance.

Murray at least had the security of a double break, but that counted for little as he left another possible smash at 5-4, 30-30, and lost the point, before finding the tramlines with a backhand on break point.

It was a tremendous comeback from Chela and, with the enthralled Lenglen crowd chanting his name, the Argentine must have felt the wind was well and truly at his back, but another edgy game followed and Murray was handed a third chance to serve it out.

A fourth set point went begging when the Briton netted a forehand but number five was converted with a thumping ace, and the relief he felt was matched by utter deflation for the man across the net.

With such a poor head-to-head record and facing a two-set deficit after over two hours on court, Chela must have known there was no way back, and another double fault on break point at the start of the third suggested as much.

Murray's game was now in full flow, with the forehand increasingly potent, the backhand as rock solid as ever, and the drop shots - many of which had missed their target in the early stages - now torturing the tiring Chela.

A brilliant run of five straight points, capped with a drive-volley and a sharp return, gave Murray the double break at 5-2 and, after saving a 17th break point of the day with an ace, he sealed victory with another deadly drop shot.

By that time the crowd on Lenglen had already learned via the big screen that Nadal had defeated Robin Soderling in straight sets; Friday's fifth Grand Slam meeting between the Spaniard and Murray looks set to be another blockbuster.

"It was just very up and down," Murray said of his match afterwards. "The wind obviously doesn't help, but it was just a really scrappy match. I didn't start particularly well and then got a little bit better, started moving a bit better towards the end of the first set.

"Then I got up in the second, sort of maybe lost concentration a little bit, which you can't afford to do against someone like Juan who has a lot of experience on this surface. Something I definitely won't get away with against Rafa.

"Then in the third set I played better, but it was just very scrappy. I didn't think the standard of tennis was particularly good, I struggled a bit with my rhythm, but I got through in straight sets."

Asked about his ankle, Murray added: "It's definitely getting better with each day and playing a match on it. You gain confidence more with the movement each time.

"I still, at times, wasn't moving great. I was moving a lot better forward today, sideways could still definitely be better, but I felt it a few times. Nothing major, but I just need in the next couple of days to do all the right things again. A lot of treatment, a lot of icing, and I'm sure it will get better."

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Battling Murray into semi-finals