June 2, 2014
Rafael Nadal has set up a sumptuous all-Spanish quarter final against David Ferrer – his opponent in last year’s final here at Roland Garros.
Meanwhile Andy Murray continued his gutsy run in Paris with a fesity win over an angry Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (3).
An impressive Nadal polished off Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in little more than an hour-and-a-half. Ferrer had already defeated Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 earlier in the day.
Since Nadal hasn’t come up against top opposition yet, we don’t know to what extent his back problem might hamper him when he is truly stretched. But at least Rafa fans will feel encouraged by the fact that he is looking like the player they know and love again, after a troubled first half to his year. Yet Ferrer will provide a much sterner test than Lajovic, since he has already beaten Nadal this year.
Rafa reflected: ‘I played against him in Madrid and last year I beat him here in the final. It’ll be a great match, he always plays at a very high level, I know what I have to do and I’ll try my best.’
Murray only managed a fifty per cent success rate with his first serve in the opening set but still looked superior. His ground strokes had rhythm and momentum and he took the second set too. Verdasco’s temper exploded in the third, until Murray gave him a point the umpire had wrongly awarded to the Brit. Andy squandered the chance to close out the match and lost three games in a row as a fiery Verdasco hit back.
But the Scot’s natural talent and sharp brain shone through in the all-important third set tie-break, which he won 7-3.
Murray can now look forward to a testing quarter-final clash against French hero Gael Monfils.
Murray said: ‘Unbelievable atmosphere today, we played some great points and he fought so hard in the third set. ‘I tried to play very aggressively today and fortunately the balls went in. It’s going to be a great atmosphere against Gael on Centre Court and I’m looking forward to it. ‘We first played when I was ten and he was eleven. There’ll be some fun points because of the way we both play.’
Murray’s progress signals a return to form just in time for Wimbledon.
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