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Passionate Andy Murray keen to take the final step at French Open

By Eleanor Crooks

Published 03/06/2016

Andy Murray celebrates victory in the Men's Singles quarter final match against Richard Gasquet of France during French Open at Roland Garros
Andy Murray celebrates victory in the Men's Singles quarter final match against Richard Gasquet of France during French Open at Roland Garros

Andy Murray hopes his passion for breaking new ground can drive him to a first French Open final.

Less than a year away from his 30th birthday, different experiences are hard to find on the tennis tour but stepping out on Court Philippe Chatrier for the title match would be one thing Murray has never done before.

Today's clash against Stan Wawrinka will be his fourth appearance in the semi-finals but Rafael Nadal, twice, and Novak Djokovic over five sets last year prevented him going further.

Murray has reached nine Grand Slam finals; five at the Australian Open and two each at Wimbledon and the US Open.

He said: "This stage of my career, to do things that I have never done before is nice.

"That's one of the things that motivates me and drives me. That's why my results on clay over the last couple of years have been really special to me because I never expected that really.

"So if I was able to make the final here it would be big for me. But I'm here to try and win the tournament, not make the final. That's my goal."

The man standing in his way this time is defending champion Wawrinka, who won his 12th match in a row at Roland Garros with a straight-sets victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the quarter-finals.

At the same time, Murray was battling his way past Richard Gasquet in four sets having dug himself out of a hole at a set and 3-1 down. But, while the Scot had history on his side against Gasquet, that is not so much the case against Wawrinka, and not just because of the third seed's achievements here.

Murray leads their head-to-head 8-7 but has lost the last three and has not taken a set off Wawrinka since 2012. On clay, meanwhile, he has lost all three matches in straight sets.

But the last of those was three years ago, before Murray's transformation into one of the best clay-courters in the world.

Victories over Nadal and Djokovic should inspire plenty of confidence but this will be a true test against a player who possesses immense power and is perfectly at home on the red stuff.

"The last two years here he has played great tennis," said Murray of Wawrinka. "After he got through the tough first round here against (Lukas) Rosol he's played very well.

"He's been at the top of the game now for a number of years and is still improving. He's been a little bit inconsistent this year, but he won last week (in Geneva) and has been playing better with each match here.

"It will be tough. He plays well on that court, so I'll have to play great tennis to beat him."

Wawrinka has, like Murray, won two Grand Slams but has always resisted suggestions he is now at the same level as any of the 'big four'.

"I think he is well ahead of me," said the Swiss. "Now that I've won a second Slam people say I'm closer to him because I have won two and he's won two.

"But if you were to compare our two careers, he's well ahead of me given all the titles, the finals, No.2 in the world, and he has so many Masters 1000 (titles), as well.

"Therefore, he's in the big four. There is a reason for this. Maybe he has fewer titles than the other big three, but he's always been with them during the semis, the finals. His career is very, very impressive."

Wawrinka has not yet beaten another top-10 player in 2016 but he is clearly in the mood to change that.

He said of last year's title: "I think it gives me more confidence and less pressure because I won it. So I have a different mentality this year. I'm feeling way better. (The quarter-final) was a really good match. I played some really good tennis. I was really focused out there.

"I'm really happy with what I'm doing and being in the semi again, it's really good for me."

Belfast Telegraph

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