Andy Murray: I can beat Rafael Nada and go all the way
Andy Murray scrapped his way through to the French Open semi-finals for the first time and then declared: "I can beat Rafael Nadal".
The world number four will take on the five-time Roland Garros champion tomorrow after coming through a topsy-turvy clash with Juan Ignacio Chela 7-6 (7/2) 7-5 6-2.
Murray has now made the semi-finals of three clay-court events this year after losing close matches to Nadal in Monte Carlo and Novak Djokovic in Rome, and he believes he can make it third-time lucky to reach his first final on the surface.
He said: "I think in the build-up to the French I was playing very well, and now I'm going to have to get that level out on Friday and sustain it for a long period to beat Rafa. But I feel I can do it.
"I have to play a very consistent match and I have to be mentally strong. Tactically, I'm going to have to be very good. So I can definitely win.
"I just need to play my best."
After losing the first five games to Viktor Troicki in his fourth-round match, Murray again started badly yesterday, although this time his injured right ankle was not to blame.
The Scot trailed 4-1 with a double break for Chela, who was in the last eight for the first time since losing to Tim Henman in 2004, but saved three set points to force a tie-break in which he thrived.
After winning that comfortably and taking a 5-2 lead in the second set it looked like Murray had turned the corner but Chela fought back to level only for the Scot to break again, and this time he made no mistake.
The third set was more routine as Murray at last took full control against a man he has now beaten at the French Open three years in succession.
Explaining the strange pattern of the match, which featured 13 breaks of serve, he said: "It was just very up and down. The wind obviously doesn't help but it was just a really scrappy match.
"I didn't start particularly well then I got a little bit better and I started moving a bit better towards the end of the first set.
"Then I got up in the second and 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. And it's 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."
Murray becomes the first British man since Fred Perry to reach the last four at every grand slam, and that was not something he expected to achieve when he rolled his ankle in a third-round win over Michael Berrer.
The Scot, who has certainly been helped by a kind draw, has also got this far without playing his best tennis, which he is taking encouragement from.
"I'm surprised I'm here, to be honest, because I haven't actually played that well," he said. "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'm glad that I'm here but now I've got two days to rest up, recover, and get ready for Rafa."
Murray was certainly less affected by his ankle than he was against Troicki and he is optimistic it will continue to improve.
He added: "It's definitely getting better with each day. You gain confidence more with the movement each time you play a match. At times I still wasn't moving great."
Nadal gave the most comprehensive of answers to questions about his form as he destroyed Robin Soderling.
Playing the man he beat in the final a year ago seemed to bring the best out of the world number one, and he brushed him aside in straight sets 6-4 6-1 7-6 (7/3).
Meanwhile, Britain's Oliver Golding battled into the quarter-finals of the boys' singles with a 6-3 3-6 6-2 win over American Marcos Giron.