Tennis: Andy Murray relished spectator boos and hostile crowd during French Open win
ANDY Murray insists he was buoyed by French fans booing him during his last 16 victory over home favourite Richard Gasquet yesterday and did not mind that the crowd wanted him to lose the match.
There is something about matches between the duo that ensures they will live long in the memory of some of tennis' unforgettable matches.
For sheer sporting drama, yesterday's fourth-round encounter at the French Open did not rival the two times Murray has fought back from two sets to love down, once at Wimbledon and once at Roland Garros.
But the role of the crowd in the Scotsman's 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 triumph coupled with some brilliant shot-making marked it out as one to be treasured.
Murray was booed as he walked on court, and two and a half hours later it seemed to take an eternity for him to serve out the victory as the Court Philippe Chatrier patrons willed their man on in an ultimately futile cause.
Some players might have wilted, but Murray loved it.
"I wouldn't say it got too much," said the 25-year-old. "It was almost like playing a football match. And I like football. I enjoyed myself on the court today.
"It's the most fun I've had on the court in a while, so I wasn't shying away from the fact that the crowd wanted me to lose.
"I've played Davis Cup a few times away from home but that was probably one of the most hostile atmospheres that I've played in."
The end could not have been more different than the start, when Murray, in cold conditions not helpful to his troublesome back, lost the first seven points and was broken twice in three games.
But once again Gasquet, whose mental weakness has been his big undoing, could not hold on to his advantage, with the turning point coming when Murray edged the second set.
Reflecting on his past comebacks against the Frenchman, Murray said: "I guess it plays on his mind. When I went a set behind it was obviously tough and he was playing the better tennis.
"But I knew if I hung in – he seemed a little bit like he didn't want to play that many long rallies.
"He was going for big shots early in the rallies, and once I managed to get into some longer rallies and see his game a bit better, then that was what changed the match."
Next up for Murray is sixth seed David Ferrer, who he has never beaten on clay, and even if he gets past the gritty Spaniard there is a huge obstacle looming in the shape of Rafael Nadal.
The six-time champion won a staggering 17 games in a row in beating Juan Monaco 6-2 6-0 6-0, and then apologised to his friend for the scoreline.
In the women's draw, second seed Maria Sharapova survived a close encounter of 21 service breaks with Klara Zakopalova but defending champion Li Na lost to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova.
Today, Novak Djokovic faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer meets Juan Martin Del Potro in two blockbuster quarter-finals.