A spellbinding semi-final contest is scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon at Roland Garros, as defending champion Rafael Nadal and British No. 1 Andy Murray clash once again in 2014. After three years without crossing paths, the two competitors will not meet for the second time in as many months, with the Nadal vs Murray head-to-head series standing at 14-5.
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is through to his fifth consecutive French Open semi-final, but needed four sets to get past fellow countryman David Ferrer. The world No.5 snatched the opening set, but failed to carry the momentum forward, as he quickly dropped a break to Nadal, which was the beginning of the end for Ferrer. His level of play would drop over the next three sets, and he would go on to lose 13 of the last 14 games in the match.
“I’m not surprised Andy is in the semi-finals,” said Nadal, who turned 28 on Tuesday. “He’s a candidate to win Roland Garros. Before the tournament he was a candidate to win Roland Garros for me, so it’s not a surprise. He was playing much better in Rome, I think. It was a very, very tough match against him. A good one for me, too. An important victory for me.”
Looking ahead to his semi-final contest, Nadal is aware that Murray is a tough challenge on any surface, and considers him a contender to win the title.
“It will be a big match and a big challenge for me. I’m going to try my best. I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances to win.”
Murray’s quarter-final battle against Gael Monfils was certainly an odd contest. While the Scot appeared to be cruising through the match in the first two sets, Monfils would rebound by snatching the second two sets to force a decider. It was here that Monfils, who had momentum in his favour, failed to win a single game and handed the match over to Murray with a bagel in the final set. It was easily the weirdest match in recent memory.
When breaking down the stats of the two competitors so far this tournament, there are some interesting numbers to take note of. Nadal hit 2 aces to Murray’s 17, but stands at 65% of his 1st service points, while Murray is at 55%. Murray has also faces 47 break points, which is 16 more than the Spaniard. Nadal also leads the return games won 60% to 37%. Murray hit over 100 more winners than Nadal, but also hit more than double the unforced errors.
Nadal will certainly be the favourite heading into the compelling match-up, as he holds the overall lead in the head-to-head series, and is coming off a win over Murray a few short weeks ago in Rome. While this has all the makings of a thrilling encounter, it will likely favour the Spaniard in the later rounds.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Four Sets