The awe-inspiring displays of some magnificent tennis continued late Monday on day nine of the 2012 French Open when record title holder of six, Rafael Nadal, and British number one, Andy Murray, progressed to the next round of the tournament. Both players have been playing some sublime tennis recently and their recent matches showcased this.
The Spaniard, recovering from his 26th ‘fiesta’ the day prior, annihilated Argentine Juan Monaco with a straight-sets 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory. Questions have been raised over Nadal’s form since the start of the New Year but debuting in Paris late May and impressing has silenced critics.
“Very happy the way I played,” said Nadal. “I think he’s playing probably the best tennis of his career.”
Rafa, as all his fans have come to know him as, was in blistering form from the beginning; securing 17 games in succession to clinch the win. Monaco, who was blatantly humbled by the reigning champion, had some brief promising moments but failed to capitalize on any. Nadal’s record with Monaco is immense, only conceding ten games in their last three clay-court encounters, and their recent match was no different. The Spanish citizen allowed just two games, breaking his opposition an impressive eight out of ten times on the way to dispensing his rival; lasting one hour and 46 minutes.
Nadal will advance to the quarterfinals, meeting fellow countryman and 2012 clay-court match wins leader Nicolas Almagro (28-6 record).
World number 4, Andy Murray, did struggle in what was eventually a convincing win against French hopeful, Richard Gasquet, overcoming a nervy start to succeed 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Gasquet, who has previously beaten injury concerns, looked set to achieve the first upset of the tournament. However, he seemed to be overwhelmed with the supportive French crowd and consequently lost his concentration.
“The game was not in my favor,” said Gasquet of the turning point at 5-4 in the second set. “And then I lost my confidence, and then he was feeling good.”
In a sold-out stadium filled with highly partisan French natives, Murray was always going to be on the losing end, but his stubbornness to not give in – with a niggling back injury – allowed him to triumph. The turning point of the match, at 5-4 in the second set, was significant in the overall outcome as the fourth seed sealed the next set in just 24 minutes. He broke Gasquet another two times in the fourth and served out the victory after two hours and 30 minutes.
He too confronts a Spaniard but this time world number six, David Ferrer, who has been performing some of the best tennis of his career.
“I’ve always found it tough against him on clay in matches and in practice.”
No doubt a tough competitor, Murray knows the consequences if he doesn’t play to his maximum, even though he edges a tight 5-4 record.
(Additional writing by Matthew Bolton)