Murray grinds past Verdasco in Roland Garros

Scot only has to be efficient to put away Spanish clay-courter

Andy Murray is in the quarter-finals of the French Open, a little tired, still reaching for his best game but ready for what should be a hugely entertaining match against France's favourite maverick, Gael Monfils, probably on Court Philippe Chatrier tomorrow.

It took Murray just over three hours to beat Fernando Verdasco, the world number 25, in straight sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the last session a 70-minute grindhe might have cut short by at least 20 minutes but for a spirited fightback.

There was as much relief as joy for Murray and no little satisfaction in getting this far for the fourth time on his return to Roland Garros after missing last year's tournament when his back gave up on him.

It is still a wide-open competition. On the other side of the draw, Ernests Gulbis plays Tomas Berdych, and Novak Djokovic, who has cruised through all but one match, meets Milos Raonic.


If Murray beats Monfils, he will almost certainly play Rafael Nadal, who has a quarter-final against his compatriot David Ferrer, whom he walloped in last year's disappointing final.

Murray was good but some way short of great against the tough Spanish clay-courter. If the Scot has another gear, he will need to find it against Monfils and will find be on the way home home if he does not rediscover the magic great tournaments demand towards the end of the second week.

It was difficult to identify stand-out moments in his 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 win.

On Chatrier, Monfils was in splendid and typically eccentric form in accounting for another Spaniard, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-0 6-2 7-5.

On Lenglen, meanwhile, Murray kept grinding. It was routine efficiency rather than spectacular domination.

Vocal explosion

The second meandered similarly, interrupted by the occasional vocal explosion from Verdasco, who continued to make life difficult for him all the way to the final bell. Murray, having been perfectly positioned to finish the job at 4-2, now had to serve to save the set at 4-5.

He did so but the mood had changed appreciably. Verdasco’s 50th unforced error gave him a 40-0 cushion. He held for 5-5. It was at this point in the second set that Verdasco’s passion got the better of him but not this time. An immaculate drop shot for 6-5 put the pressure back on Murray, who looked tetchy and frustrated.

He forced the tie-break and finished with a regulation smash.

Fred Perry and Bunny Austin are the only British players who have won more matches here than Murray. He might need some of their old dash to add another one – and then, who knows? Guardian service