Andy Murray in with a shout now
Andy Murray has yet to play on Court Philippe Chatrier at this year's French Open, but the 27-year-old Scot can expect star billing in the main stadium tomorrow.
The reward for Murray's best display of the tournament, a dominant 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 victory over Fernando Verdasco, will be a quarter-final showdown with Ga"l Monfils, a hugely popular figure here in his home city.
After completing a four-hour victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber the previous day, Murray was keen to win his fourth-round match in the minimum time.
He still needed two hours and 54 minutes to see off Verdasco, but this was a masterful performance, full of controlled aggression.
The victory extended Murray's fine record of consistency in Grand Slam tournaments.
He has reached the last eight in each of the last 13 Grand Slam events he has contested.
Tomorrow will be his fourth quarter-final here.
Monfils, who beat Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, has grown used to carrying home hopes at the French Open, having reached two quarter-finals and a semi-final in the last seven years.
The 27-year-old, a spectacular shot-maker, is one of the game's great entertainers.
His talent is matched only by his unpredictability, which has frustrated a succession of coaches in the past.
Tomorrow's two quarter-finals are scheduled to be split between the main show courts. The other match, between Rafael Nadal (pictured) and David Ferrer, is a repeat of last year's final, but it would be a surprise if the all-Spanish meeting was chosen for the main stage.
"The atmosphere will be great whichever court it's on," Murray said.
"I don't care whether no one in the crowd wants me to win or everyone wants me to win. I will fight just as hard."
Murray has known Monfils since he lost to him in the semi-finals of a tournament in Rouen when he was just 10. Murray's brother, Jamie, went on to beat him in the final. "He was the same as he is now. He moved unbelievably well, smiling on the court. He's a great athlete, maybe the best we have had in tennis."
Murray had beaten Verdasco in nine of their previous 10 meetings, including the most recent, when the Scot won from two sets down in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer.
Aggressive from the start and as steely as ever in defence, he took the game to the world No 25 throughout. Murray took the first set in 46 minutes after breaking to lead 5-4 and the second after breaking in the eleventh game.
Murray looked to be in complete control.
He broke serve immediately in the third set and had 10 break points in Verdasco's next three service games but was unable to take any. Verdasco, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly agitated. After thumping a forehand straight at Murray at the net, the Spaniard then became involved in an exchange with Pascal Maria, the umpire, over a line call.
For a game or two Murray might have been in danger of letting his frustration get the better of him, but he held firm in the tie-break, setting the tone on the first point with a splendid winning backhand cross-court pass. Verdasco levelled at 3-3 but Murray remained as solid as a rock to win it 7-3.
Murray, who said he had played more aggressively because he knew he would be tired from his previous exertions, agreed it had been his best performance of the tournament so far. "I thought I dictated as many points as I could today," Murray said.
Nadal, who has not dropped a set in his first four matches, beat Serbia's Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 to earn a quarter-final meeting with Ferrer, a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 winner over South Africa's Kevin Anderson.
Nadal has lost two of his three subsequent meetings with Ferrer since last year's French Open final, including one on clay in Monte Carlo two months ago. "I am a little bit better than when I was playing against him in Monte Carlo, but he's playing great, too," Nadal said.
I don't care whether no one in the crowd wants me to win or everyone wants me to win. I will fight just as hard. Meanwhile, a year after considering quitting tennis, Andrea Petkovic is through to her first grand slam quarter-final for three years.
In 2011, the popular German made the last eight at three of the four slams and was ranked in the top 10.
But back, ankle and knee injuries over the next 18 months sent her ranking plummeting to 177 when she finally returned to the tour for good in March last year. After losing in the second round of qualifying at Roland Garros last year, Petkovic thought about calling it a day.
The 26-year-old said: "It wasn't because I had lost in the second round against some player that was ranked 160. It wasn't about that. It was just I didn't like playing any more. I hated it.
"I was putting so much pressure on myself to get back where I was, and it wasn't fun any more. I was just forcing. Everything was work and hard. It wasn't what it was, why I started playing tennis."
Petkovic is back to 27th in the rankings and yesterday beat surprise package Kiki Bertens 1-6 6-2 7-5 in the fourth round.
Petkovic will have to step up her game if she is to go any further with 2012 finalist Sara Errani up next. The 10th seed defeated sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 in a minor upset to make the quarter-finals for the third straight year.
Jankovic's exit means fourth seed Simona Halep is the only member of the top six still standing.
The Romanian made just her second grand slam quarter-final thanks to a 6-4 6-3 victory over 15th seed Sloane Stephens.
There she will face 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is once again having a good run at Roland Garros and defeated Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-4.