French Open 2014: Andy Murray takes on Gael Monfils at Roland Garros
Last Updated: 04/06/14 1:13pm
Andy Murray: The British No 1 and world No 8 takes on his good friend Gael Monfils
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray takes on the last Frenchman in the tournament, Gael Monfils, for a place in the French Open semi-finals in a mouthwatering contest on Wednesday.
In a match is scheduled for Court Philippe Chatrier, while the rematch of the 2013 final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer has been relegated to Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The seventh-seeded Murray and world No 23 Monfils are both trying to reach the French Open semi-finals for the second time, and expect a loud partisan crowd to give full-throated backing to the man known as 'La Monf.'
Monfils is a true showman and entertainer, sometimes to the detriment of his success at tennis.
But there's no question that he will make you take notice, whether he's in a break-dancing contest with fellow French player, Laurent Lokoli ... or diving sideways through the air, parallel to the ground, to reach a shot.
"He loves playing in front of a big crowd," Murray said. "He's a great athlete. Maybe the best we have had in tennis."
The players will renew a rivalry that began 16 years ago in Rouen. The Scot was 10 and Monfils 11 when they met in the semi-finals of a junior tournament, the Frenchman winning before losing to Murray's brother Jamie in the final. The pair have been friends ever since.
Murray leads their head-to-head 3-2 but Monfils has won both matches in Paris, one at Roland Garros and one indoors at Bercy.
"It's the quarter-finals of a slam. I don't care whether no one in the crowd wants me to win or everyone wants me to win. I will fight just as hard to try and get the right outcome."
They have not faced each other for three and a half years, making this an even more intriguing clash.
"It's a tough match," said Murray. "I think in the grand slams he's played his best tennis here by far. He loves playing in front of a big crowd.
"We haven't played against each other for quite a while, so I'm looking forward to it."
Monfils grew up in Paris and is a folk hero at Roland Garros. This is his fourth quarter-final in six years. Roger Federer beat him in two of them while, after defeating David Ferrer in 2008 to reach his so far only grand slam semi-final, Federer ended his run again.
"It's the quarter-finals of a slam. I don't care whether no one in the crowd wants me to win or everyone wants me to win. I will fight just as hard to try and get the right outcome," said Murray.
In Murray's favour will be his record against Frenchman - the Scot having won his last 20 slam matches against them dating back to a loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round of the Australian Open in 2008.
In the other men's quarter-finals, Rafael Nadal will look to extend his 63-1 French Open career record heading into his all-Spanish clash against world No 5 David Ferrer.
Nadal is 21-6 against Ferrer, including a straight-set victory in last year's final at Roland Garros.
But in their most recent match, April 18 on red clay at the Monte Carlo Masters, Ferrer beat Nadal in straight sets.
In the women's quarter-finals, the 2009 champion and 27th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova faces the much-fancied world No 4 Simona Halep while Italy's Sara Errani will be trying to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the third year in a row.
The 2012 runner-up takes on Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who is is 0-3 in Grand Slam quarter-finals.