British number one Andy Murray will face world number one Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the French Open, and despite Nadal's seemingly shaky form, the Scot is under no illusion and said he must be mentally strong and at tactical supreme if he is to get past the five-time French Open winner.
A look at Nadal's French Open history could terrorize his opponents. The Spaniard has lost just once in his six years at Roland Garros. He can equal Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles if he wins this year, and after struggling against John Isner in the first round, the Spaniard hasn't dropped a set. More importantly, despite easing into the semis, he is well off his top form.
Murray, on the other hand, has displayed a great show of determination. He has battled through to the semifinals despite having suffered an ankle injury in the third round. Furthermore, he admitted he hadn't played his best tennis so far.
When asked of the looming figure of Nadal, Murray insisted, I can definitely win.
He went on. I feel I can do it. It's just making sure that, come Friday, I play my best tennis. I have to play a very consistent match and I have to be mentally strong. Tactically, I'm going to have to be very good.
In the 14 times the two have met before, Nadal has won 10. And Murray went on to claim that defeating Nadal is the best challenge in tennis.
It's one of the best challenges in tennis, said Murray. Obviously his record here is, well, it's incredible. Definitely I look forward to it. I understand obviously it's going to be an incredibly difficult match for me.
I know Rafa will play excellent tennis against me on Friday. Pretty much every time we've played we've had some really good matches and he's always played well. Even in practice he plays well against me, so I don't expect him to play badly on Friday.
Despite being beaten by Murray twice before in Grand Slams, Nadal's eyebrows perked when he saw Murray coming closer than anyone in ending Novak Djokovic's streak in Rome in the semifinals.
Nadal said, In Rome, I think he played a fantastic match in the semi-finals against Djokovic. He was the closest player to beating him this year.
Nadal, who progressed into the semis after an impressive straight-sets victory over Swede Robin Soderling, admitted that his form was poor in the early stages of the tournament before suggesting that Murray posed a huge challenge.
I prefer playing against an easier opponent, that's for sure, said Nadal. But to play against Andy always is a big challenge, because you know how good he is, and his talent is difficult to compare with a lot of players, in my opinion.
He has all the shots. He can defend very well; he can attack very well; he runs fantastic. The only way that you can beat him is playing at very, very high level. It's not going to be impossible. That's what I'm going to try.
When asked whether Murray's ankle injury could help him, Nadal said, I believe that Murray was able to play five setters lately and I don't believe the fact that he has some pain in the ankle will limit his performance at all.
It happened to me also to have some pain. The issue is how you resist the pain. I believe that, as the tournament goes on, you improve every day and you don't think about what you feel. I think on Friday he will have no pain anymore. He'll be 100%. He's a very special player, he has a lot of talent.