Andy Murray through to French Open last eight
Scot will face David Ferrer after after unconvincing four set win over Jérémy Chardy
Andy Murray is through to the last eight of the French Open after a four set win over Jérémy Chardy. Photograph: Reuters
Andy Murray knows he needs to lift his game appreciably if he is to go much further in the 2015 French Open.
He got out of the fourth round by drawing on his wide range of weapons, some malfunctioning like a jammed rifle, to get rid of Jérémy Chardy in four sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Monday, but the obdurate David Ferrer will not allow the Scot such a scattergun performance in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Chardy was hardly perfect – he hit 10 double faults and 56 unforced errors - but Murray, 42 places ahead of him at No 3 in the world, should have won way before the two hours and 51 minutes it took him to post a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 score.
“He’s a very tough player, incredibly powerful, big serve,” Murray said courtside. “He was hitting his backhand very well down the line. He made it very difficult in all the sets. I managed to be a bit more solid in the third and fourth sets.
“I felt like I played a good match, there were a lot of very good rallies, but it gets tougher every match. Ferrer is someone I haven’t beaten on clay before. I will have to play great tennis against him, because he’s a fantastic player.”
There was plenty of edge to this match. Chardy beforehand voiced his anger at Murray, who retired citing exhaustion after beating him in Rome. “We all get tired,” said Chardy, who felt Murray had disrespected him – not to mention costing him free passage to the next round (they parted on good terms).
From start to finish the crowd were unequivocally, understandably with Chardy, who lives in Belgium but was born in Pau. They cheered his every success, fell silent on Murray’s, and acclaimed each of the Scot’s errors.
But one of Murray’s strengths is his willingness to fight as hard in adversity as he does when in the ascendancy. They are all individual points to him; the job is to collect them in enough consecutive bunches. Simple.
Playing Chardy must be the tennis equivalent of being on volcano watch, though. The Frenchman smouldered, exploded, rumbled ominously then slowly cooled towards extinction again.
The integrity of his struggle shone through in the two service games of the second set that he should have lost: over 15 minutes at the start, when he survived nine deuce points, three double faults and saved three break points; then, after breaking Murray, holding with a mere pair of deuces for 3-1.
Had Murray taken advantage of those chances he would have spared the crowd some serious swearing spats as his temper flared. He knew he should have been more ruthless at key moments as Chardy’s serve veered between lethal and lousy. The Frenchman was plainly grateful for his opponent’s lapses.
At 5-3 and 40-30, he was gifted the set when Murray’s backhand drifted into the tramlines and they were back on level terms after an hour and a half of occasionally exhilarating tennis which was marred by poor errors on both sides of the net.
About this time, Roger Federer was cleaning up the mess he’d created for himself the night before, resuming at a set apiece against Gaël Monfils then finding the gears to win comfortably enough 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 10 minutes. Moments later, Ferrer – whom Murray has beaten nine times out of 15 – put a routine 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 score on the US Open champion Marin Cilic (who had not lost a set in the first week), to secure his place in the quarter-finals after an hour and 50 minutes endeavour on Court No1.
When Murray and Chardy resumed on Lenglen, the Scot was still digging himself out of a hole, as the Frenchman continued to hit without fear or discretion. Murray was hoping he would blow himself out, but he just kept coming, a backhand blitz down the line getting the break right at the start of the set.
Murray needed get back into the match quickly. It was not going to be good enough to wait for the Chardy forehand to implode. There had to be a change of attitude and strategy – and he delivered, breaking back immediately and holding to go in front, mightily relieved but with plenty left to do.
A fighting hold for 4-3 in the third was one of the little noticed turning points at the time, because from there onwards Chardy’s brilliance ebbed.
He was finding the struggle wearing. He was getting tired. When a lazy forehand drifted wide, he handed Murray two break points, then the game with another double fault.
Chardy slumped, hands on knees, after a break-back smash in the ninth game but Murray chose set point to send down his first double fault of the match before serving out, wiping his brow in relief – and maybe a little tiredness.
Murray went 3-1 up after 22 minutes of the fourth set, blinked again in the sixth game when a poor drop shot (not his first) cost him his serve, then stayed alert enough to get over the line with another break and a final forehand sending Chardy the wrong way. It wasn’t pretty – but it was good preparation for Ferrer.