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Tennis: Murray, Gonzalez to clash in French Open quarter-finals

sports Updated: May 31, 2009 21:36 IST

AFP
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Andy Murray reached his first French Open quarter-final on Sunday where he will face big-hitting Fernando Gonazalez who almost missed Roland Garros due to freak injury caused by signing autographs.

Third seed Murray became only the third British man in the Open era to reach the last eight here with a convincing 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 win over Croatia's Marin Cilic.

The ever-improving 22-year-old, with former two-time Roland Garros finalist Alex Corretja helping hone his claycourt game, looked in impressive physical condition with a series of long, punishing rallies eventually telling on the 13th seeded Cilic, the youngest man left in the draw.

Cilic, who came into the fourth round having lost the fewest number of games of any player in the last 16, was wilting by the time he slipped 0-3 down in the third set.

He needed treatment on his left leg after falling awkwardly before Murray went on to secure a convincing victory in the seventh game.

Chilean 13th seed Gonzalez revealed how an injury signing autographs almost shattered his French Open dreams.

The 28-year-old, who outgunned Romania's Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the third time, injured his ankle while signing photos and tennis balls for fans at the Rome Masters in April.

As a result, he spent a month on the sidelines.

"I was signing autographs and someone called me from the other side of the court and when I ran over to them, I twisted my ankle," said Gonzalez.

"I think I only managed to sign two and then I had to go back to the locker room because my ankle was so painful."

The freak accident meant Gonzalez had to skip the rest of the claycourt season to recover in time for the French Open.

But despite the Rome scare, he believes he is now playing some of the best tennis of his 10-year career.

"I think on average I am playing my best," said Gonzalez who made the semi-finals in Rome where he was defeated by Rafael Nadal before being completely finished off by his injury.

"I have played at a good level almost in every match. I enjoy going onto the courts and into practice although as I am getting older I tend to practice less but with more intensity."

Later Sunday, defending champion and top seed Rafael Nadal tackles Sweden's Robin Soderling for a place in the last eight.

Nadal beat Soderling for the loss off just one game in Rome last month.

In the day's other last 16 tie, Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko, twice a semi-finalist, faces Spanish eighth seed Fernando Verdasco who is looking for a first quarter-final place.