Andy Murray thinks he will be coming up against the fittest athlete in the world of tennis when he plays in the quarter-finals of the French Open on Wednesday. The Briton will be facing Frenchman Gael Monfils, in what will be a repeat of Murray’s first ever match at Roland Garros in 2006, which he lost in five sets.
Monfils, seeded 23, is renowned for his movement across the court, particularly when diving after approaching the net, and he has helped set up the last eight clash after beating 14th seed Fabio Fognini and Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the last two rounds.
Murray advanced to the quarter-finals by beating 24th seed Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 on Tuesday, and looking ahead to his match with the home favourite, he praised his opponent’s fitness and looks forward to some exciting rallies.
The 27-year-old said: "He's a great athlete, maybe the best we have had in tennis.
"I think in the Grand Slams he's played his best tennis here by far. He loves playing in front of a big crowd.
"It's going to be an exciting match. I'm sure there will be some fun rallies - there always are when I have played against him."
It is the fourth time that the Scot will be playing in the quarter-finals, though he has only once previously reached the semi-final stage, where he was beaten by current world number one Rafael Nadal in 2011.
The world number eight did not play in last year’s event, so his ranking points are set to improve significantly, and he will move above Argentine Juan Martin del Potro to seventh in the rankings after the tournament, while he could also move into sixth above Czech Tomas Berdych if he reaches the semi-finals.
Victory over Monfils would help him reach just his second semi-final in a singles tournament in 2014, as he has struggled to build on a successful year in 2013, where he won his second Grand Slam at Wimbledon.
Monfils has also played in one semi-final previously at Roland Garros, which he subsequently lost to Roger Federer of Switzerland, which remains as his only semi-final appearance in a Grand Slam, and he is also set to play in his fourth quarter-final.
The former junior Wimbledon champion has been most successful at his home Grand Slam, as his best result in any of the other three majors is one appearance in the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2010.
The match is scheduled to be played second on Court Philippe Chatrier, after the women’s singles quarter-final between Sara Errani and Andrea Petkovic has been completed.
It will be the sixth meeting between the pair, and Murray holds a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head matches, though Monfils was the victor the last time they played, at the Paris Masters in 2010.
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