Andy Murray demonstrated the steel and style of the world’s No.1 player as he recovered from an early barrage of brilliance from Kei Nishikori to repel the mercurial Japanese in four absorbing sets on Wednesday and set up another semi-final date at Roland-Garros with Stan Wawrinka.
The difference on Philippe-Chatrier Court was that between a hardened major champion and a contender who could only mix his starbursts with patches of wretched inconsistency as Murray reached his fifth Roland-Garros semi with a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(0), 6-1 victory.
The No.1 seed has simply played himself back to somewhere near his best during this tournament – a remarkable transformation from the scratchy form he was showing over most of the clay-court season – and he needed to discover it after Nishikori played a blinding opening set, quite outplaying last year’s finalist early on.
Yet the shape of a match which never had much of a pattern to it seemed to change most dramatically early in the second set when Murray, still struggling to assert himself, was given a second time violation from umpire Carlos Ramos that seemed to infuriate and perhaps galvanise him.
He never looked back in that set as he began to wrest back the initiative. “I needed to start putting more pace on my shots, he was dictating all the points in the first set.
It was windy, so the timing was difficult, but once I was able to get into a rhythm and keep him away from the baseline, that made the difference,” explained Murray.
Nishikori’s form dipped under pressure and then, at the end of an uneven third set, Murray cashed in on a dismal tie-break from the Japanese before completely taking command in the fourth to set up a repeat of last year’s last-four encounter with Wawrinka that Murray won in four sets.
“Stan has played fantastic this tournament so far, I don’t think he’s dropped a set,” noted Murray.
“Last year, I had to play one of my best matches on clay to beat him. I know it will be tough but I’ll fight as hard as I can.”
Culled from French Open
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