Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Tennis

Victims of UK attacks in Murray's thoughts


Crisis? What crisis? Just six days after beginning his French Open campaign with question marks over his form and health, Andy Murray secured his place in the quarter-finals with his most authoritative performance of the tournament so far.

Karen Khachanov, a 6ft 6in Russian who had beaten Tomas Berdych and John Isner, was no match for Murray, who won 6-3 6-4 6-4 to earn a quarter-final meeting with Kei Nishikori.

Murray, who had been on antibiotics before the tournament and had won only one of his four previous matches on clay, has since gone from strength to strength. He is through to the quarter-finals thanks to the 650th tour-level victory of his career, a figure which only 14 other players have bettered.

When he was interviewed on court after the match, Murray wanted to talk about the terrorist attack in London at the weekend and other recent incidents.

"There was a terrible tragedy in London," Murray said. "We also had (another incident) in Manchester only a few days ago. Paris has also had some problems in the last year or two.

"I'm sure everyone would join me in sharing our thoughts and prayers with everyone who has been affected by this.

"It's something that has affected large parts of Europe and all over the world. We want things to keep getting better and I appreciate everyone still coming out to support the tennis and creating a fantastic atmosphere. I'm grateful that I can come out and perform in front of you."

Khachanov had never played in the main draw at Roland Garros before last week, and the 21-year-old had never previously faced a player ranked in the world's top six and was up against an opponent who kept his focus throughout.

Every aspect of Murray's game looked in good shape but especially his serve, which has sometimes been his undoing in the past. His defence was as good as ever, his ground strokes were powerful and penetrating and his lobs and drop shots were played with wonderful precision.

On this occasion, moreover, there was no repeat of the moderate starts Murray had made in his first three matches here. The 30-year-old Scot was on his game from the very first point.

In the first set, Murray's play was almost as perfect as the weather. The World No.1 made only one unforced error and conceded just five points on his own serve in taking the set in just 38 minutes.

The only break of serve in the opening set came in the sixth game. When Khachanov served at deuce, Murray went to break point with a thumping forehand return winner and converted it with a rally typical of so many he has won over the years. Dogged defence kept the Scot in the point until he forced Khachanov into a forehand error.

Murray had served well from the start and finished off the set with a service game to love, completing the job with an ace.

Khachanov had not done too much wrong in the first set, but a loose game at 1-1 in the second cost him another break. A wild forehand beyond the baseline handed Murray a break point and a double fault followed.

With Murray leading 3-2, Khachanov turned up the power a notch to retrieve the break, only for the Scot to respond in kind. Once again, Murray served out for the set in emphatic fashion, holding to 15.

There was no let-up in the third set as Murray broke in the opening game. Khachanov again raised his hopes by breaking back to level at 4-4, only for Murray to respond in perfect fashion.

After two hours and four minutes, Murray served out for victory, which he completed when Khachanov hit a forehand long. No wonder the Scot looked satisfied at the end.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph