Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Set to Beat the Crowd and Their Hero

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Set to Beat the Crowd and Their Hero

Article excerpt

Byline: Eleanor Crooks

ANDY Murray is ready to disappoint the French crowd once again at Roland Garros as he prepares to take on local hero Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet reached the quarter-finals for the first time at the 13th attempt with an upset win over fifth seed Kei Nishikori on Sunday.

After four fourth-round defeats on his last five appearances at his home grand slam, it was a landmark achievement and one celebrated exuberantly by the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier.

But history does not favour Gasquet (pictured below) going any further. One of those fourth-round defeats was against Murray, when the Scot came from a set down to win in 2012.

Murray has won all four of his previous slam matches against Gasquet, twice from two sets down, while he has won his last 25 matches against Frenchmen in the majors dating back to a 2008 loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Australia.

His only defeat by a Frenchman at Roland Garros, meanwhile, came a decade ago against Gael Monfils when he was still a teenager.

Murray said: "I'm pumped to be in the quarters of a slam. Obviously the atmosphere will be tough but I don't mind that.

"I've played a number of times against French players here in diffi-cult atmospheres and I managed okay. So I'm sure I'll be fine."

Playing the role of pantomime villain appeals to Murray's contrary nature and he walked onto court for the 2012 clash with Gasquet to a chorus of boos and with a big grin on his face.

The 29-year-old needs to be fired up to play his best tennis and that was fully in evidence in his fourth-round win over John Isner, when he berated himself constantly but played a fine match to win in straight sets. Beating big servers Isner and Ivo Karlovic has allowed him to recover physically from his five-set battles in the opening rounds, which is crucial because major tests await.

If he can get past Gasquet and his flowing backhand, defending champion Stan Wawrinka is likely to be waiting, while Novak Djokovic looks to have a comfortable path to the final on the other side.

Murray said: "I feel fine now. Between now and the end of the tournament, it's completely different matches (to Karlovic and Isner). …

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