Andy Murray admitted he was left helpless by Fernando Gonzalez's booming forehand as the Chilean ended the British No 1's impressive run at the French Open at the quarter-final stage. Murray was bidding to become only the second British man in the Open era, after Tim Henman, to reach the last four at Roland Garros but he ran out of steam, as the 12th seed Gonzalez powered his way to a 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 win. The naturally attacking Gonzalez can blow hot and cold but today was one of his better days as he hit 45 winners to steamroller the third seed on a sun-kissed Philippe Chatrier court. Murray held his hands up, acknowledging that the man who he claims has the biggest forehand in tennis deserved the victory. "No-one's hit the ball that big. If that happens, sometimes you've got to say, 'too good'," he said.
"If you look at some of the shots he hits, he's hitting forehands from a metre wide of the tramlines on some points and hitting winners off them. "Even if you try to hit a ball to his backhand, he runs around and spanks a winner. You can't do a whole lot about that." One break was enough for the 28-year-old Gonzalez, a boys' singles winner here in 1998, to take the first set. His level dropped, though, and Murray took advantage by breaking in the sixth game of the second set before serving it out. He did not make a single unforced error in that second set, his nagging consistency beginning to stifle the big-hitting Chilean, who dropped his first set of the tournament today.
But how Murray fell from his lofty perch. He won just seven points in a disastrous third set, which was easily his worst of the last 10 days. And he was always on the back foot in what proved to be the final set too, ending the championship by being broken to love in a terrible service game where his shot selection left much to be desired. Murray was not too despondent about the defeat, however. Instead, he looked back fondly on the strongest clay-court campaign of his life, which culminated in a best ever display at Roland Garros, while he also reached a semi-final in Monte Carlo. Murray, it seems, can perform on the dirt.
"It's been very good for me, a lot better than previous years," the 22-year-old added. "It's not like after a match like this I'm going to get down about it. "I've won a lot of matches, probably double the amount of matches that I had won in my life on clay before this stretch." *PA Sport