By Ros Satar
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic meet for the 27th time, as Murray bids to make the French Open final for the first time in his career.
- Djokovic leads their head to head 18-8
- Last time Murray beat Djokovic in a Slam was in the Wimbledon final, 2013
- Murray looking to snap seven-match losing streak
Andy Murray will look to snap a losing streak going back to his famous win over Novak Djokovic to claim his first Wimbledon title in 2013, when they clash in the Roland Garros semi-final on Friday. Djokovic sealed his place in the semi-final after winning the much-hyped quarter-final against nine-time and defending champion Rafael Nadal, in straight sets.
Murray had jokingly referred to his quarter-final against Spain’s David Ferrer as ‘second fiddle’
In what has been a seasons of firsts for Murray, he was bidding for another, in trying to beat Ferrer for the first time on clay. The Spaniard had to come from two sets down to Simone Bolelli to book his place in the quarter-final, but had largely been untroubled throughout the tournament.
After a tough first set which saw three breaks of serve for each player, with Murray saving two set points before edging the tie-break, things looked much more routine for Murray in the second set, before Ferrer came back at him in the third set, coming back from a break down and saving a match point in the process. But he was outplayed in the fourth set, as Murray became the first British player to reach the semi-final of the French Open.
Standing in his way though is Djokovic on a mission, and at this stage it is very much on his racquet to lose. The task ahead of the Brit is a tall one. He last beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, and since then he has struggled to get past the World No. 1 on seven occasions.
The only weakness that Djokovic has shown this week is struggling with a slight hip/groin injury in his second round match, but since then has looked in control. No more so that his quarter-final which, after a competitive first sat, never looked in danger of being toppled from his intent to collect his first Roland Garros title, as he ended Nadal’s 39-match winning streak in Paris, and extending his own winning run this year to 27 matches.
It makes Murray’s 15-match unbeaten run on the dirt maybe look a little insignificant by comparison but there is a lot to take from Murray’s focus since the European clay court season started. Choosing to skip Monte Carlo after his wedding, Murray trained with some of the best clay court specialists in Barcelona for the precise reason of sharpening up his game and it has paid dividends with his first two titles, and two firsts in beating Nadal and Ferrer on clay.
Murray will need to be as aggressive as he ever has been to mix up his play. Djokovic will hit at hit from the back of the court forever, and in their semi-final in Indian Wells his movement was so supreme he seemed to be able to cover the court everywhere at once. The frustration of Djokovic is that shots that would be winners against anyone else find their way back over the net from the Serbian’s racquet.
Both are instinctive returners, perhaps with Murray being a touch more defensive and in the searing heat of the day, as the second semi-final, perhaps Murray will look to shorten those points and make a dent in their head to head.
Murray and Djokovic are scheduled on Chatrier court, not before 3pm CET (2pm BST).