With Andy Murray breezing into the quarter finals to face a tie against Richard Gasquet, the time has come for him to start dreaming about the possibility of lifting the title at Roland Garros.
Despite being without a coach after his split from Amelie Mauresmo three weeks ago, the 29 year old has enjoyed a pair of straight sets victories over big servers Ivo Karlovic and John Isner respectively, thereby shaking off any concerns over his endurance after a five set battle in victory over Mathias Bourgue during round 1.
Facing Gasquet, the last remaining Frenchman in the tournament, ought to bring confidence for Murray, having defeated his opponent in each of the last 5 matches, two of which have come this year. As he takes on Gasquet, the fortunes of Novak Djokovic may well be untold.
The world number 1 has made every attempt, but failed, to hide a neck injury troubling him to such an extent that he lost the first set of his own fourth round tie against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6. Despite returning with a power game that has seen him take control of the third set, having won the second, Djokovic’s struggles could haunt him as the tournament nears a conclusion.
With Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer both having withdrawn from the tournament before its ignition, Murray smells blood. His regular stumbling blocks have been extinguished, with Djokovic the only concerning figure in his way. By his own standards, Djokovic has had a breeze of a tournament thus far, yet to drop a set at all. However, for all his brilliance, he has reason to be wary of Murray’s clay court aptitude.
The last three Masters tournaments Murray has competed in (The Italian Masters, The Madrid Open and the Monte Carlo Masters), have seen him scoop tournament trophies in Italy, a runner up in Madrid, and a semi finalist in the Monte Carlo, losing to Djokovic and clay king Nadal respectively. However, along the way, he has vanquished names such as Milos Raonic, Thomas Berdych, Nadal himself, before slaying Djokovic in straight sets. A 12-2 win/loss record is his best this year on any surface, beating out Djokovic’s 9-2.
Optimism with a hint of caution is the tonic for Murray as he approached the quarters. But surely this time, he has his eye on the big prize, with a bigger sense that now, more than ever, he has cured his clay court voodoo.