French Open: Andy Murray holds off Richard Gasquet to reach semifinals

Andy Murray overcame shaky play and some spirited fights in the early sets from Richard Gasquet to advance to the semifinals of the French Open, battling past the Frenchman 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-0, 6-2. After struggling through the first two sets, the world number two took control, dominating the final two sets and set a semifinal clash with the defending champion.

Gasquet roars back to take opener

Murray wasted no time taking control of the match. After holding to start the match, he battled to break point in his opponent’s first service game and was gifted the break when Gasquet double-faulted. The world number two quickly consolidated with a hold to love for an early 3-0 lead. The next five games would go with serve, although Murray had to save a break point in the seventh game, with the Scot stretching his lead to 5-2. The second seed served for the set at 5-3, but found himself down break point at 30-40. While he saved that one, Gasquet kept pressing and had a second at 40-AD, this time converting when Murray missed a forehand.

Richard Gasquet lunges for a forehand. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
Richard Gasquet lunges for a forehand. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The Scot quickly raced ahead 0-30 on the Frenchman’s serve, but Gasquet would battle back and survive multiple deuces before leveling the set at 5-5. The Frenchman was building confidence as he raced ahead 15-40 in the next game and broke for his first lead of the set when Murray double-faulted. Gasquet had two set points on his serve in the next game at 40-15, but could not convert. An epic series of deuces followed that had the Frenchman save three break points before finally converting his fourth set point to seal the opening set.

Murray avoids collapse in tiebreak

The second set followed a similar script, with Murray holding to start the set and then reaching break point in his opponent’s first service game. The Scot failed to convert this time and was forced to save a pair of break points in his next service game. The first five games would go with serve before Murray ripped a backhand winner at 15-40 in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. He held to once again lead 5-2.

Just like the first set, Gasquet would battle back. After holding to love, the Frenchman forced Murray into an error at 40-AD to reclaim the break. The Scot fought to prevent Gasquet from levelling in the next game, but could not hold him off and just like the first set, they were even at 5-5. This time, Murray did not let the ninth seed run away with the set. A tough hold gave the second seed a 6-5 lead.

Murray hits a volley during his quarterfinal. Photo: Emine Urer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Murray hits a volley during his quarterfinal. Photo: Emine Urer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
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A Gasquet hold sent the set to a tiebreak. The first three points went with serve before a double fault from Murray gave the Frenchman the minibreak. The error seemed to kick the world number two into gear as he followed it up with an ace, won both points on Gasquet’s serve and ripped another ace to turn a 1-3 deficit into a 5-3 lead. A forehand volley winner gave him set point, which he converted with a forehand winner.

Momentum shifts firmly to Murray

The first game of the third set was a battle on the Gasquet serve, with Murray converting his second break point for an early lead. After Murray held, he would break again by forcing the Frenchman into error after error. The world number two found himself down 0-30 in the following game but won four unanswered points to consolidate his double break. His hot run continued as he raced ahead 0-40 on his opponent’s serve in the fifth game, and while Gasquet saved those three, two more would follow at 40-AD, with Murray converting the second with a backhand winner. A love hold sealed the bagel set and a two sets to one lead for the world number two.

Murray cruises into semifinals

Andy Murray sizes up a forehand. Photo: Emine Urer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Andy Murray sizes up a forehand. Photo: Emine Urer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
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Gasquet would stop the carnage in the opening game of the fourth set by holding serve. After Murray responded with a hold of his own, he once again established his dominance by racing ahead 15-40 and converting his second break points with a volley winner for the break lead. The world number two was now rolling as Gasquet appeared to be out of gas. Murray broke again to 15 for a 4-1 lead and held to move to within a game of victory. The Frenchman held to force his opponent to serve for it, but Murray made no mistake, holding to 15 to advance to the semifinals.  

By the numbers

Murray pounded nine aces, but only won 47 percent of his second serve points. The Scot pounded an astounding 51 winners, while only giving up 32 unforced errors. Gasquet’s numbers were much closer, hitting 35 winners to 31 unforced errors. All things considered, the Frenchman did fairly well saving break points, saving ten. However, Murray still managed to convert five. Gasquet only managed to convert three of his eight chances and did not hold a break point in the last two sets.

Murray will face his toughest test yet in the semifinals when he takes on defending champion Stan Wawrinka for a spot in the final. Murray is through to his fourth semifinal in Paris but has yet to reach a final at Roland Garros. 

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