Andy Murray’s prowess on clay continues to increase year after year: the Brit dropped just ten games in two straight sets victories over Jeremy Chardy and David Goffin to reach the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome, and faces a huge surprise package in French lucky loser Lucas Pouille next.
Andy Murray cruises, battles for 6-1, 7-5 win over David Goffin. Murray into SFs at all three clay Masters this year, a first. #andymurrclay
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 13, 2016
Lucas Pouille is a big talent with easy power but great chance for @andy_murray to get to back-to-back Masters 1000 finals on clay
— Simon Cambers (@scambers73) May 13, 2016
In the last-16, Murray faces up against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, already holding a 7-1 head-to-head record against the Frenchman after a sole defeat in Cincinnati back in 2012. Murray has been on superlative form on the clay since struggling past Radek Stepanek in the first round in Madrid (loss to Djokovic aside, of course), and is tearing up the bottom half of the draw as fellow seeds tumble left, right and centre.
Against Chardy, the Brit dropped just four games and faced just two break points in a highly impressive 6-0 6-4 victory, which set him up against Davis Cup final nemesis David Goffin in the quarters. Murray also dominated their head-to-head 3-0, but with Goffin having beaten Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-0(!) in the previous round, the Scot was not taking anything for granted. The Brit served exceptionally to claim 6 out of 6 easy service holds, breaking serve seven times to secure a 6-1 7-5 victory and set up a match against Pouille, who lost to Mikhail Kukushkin in the final qualifying round but got hugely lucky, replacing a seed in the main draw before victories over Gulbis, Ferrer and a walkover against Juan Monaco in the quarters.
Meanwhile, the winner of that semi-final plays either Novak Djokovic, who squeezed past Nadal 7-5 7-6(4), or one of Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori, who play the final quarter-final later today.
Meanwhile, a catch-up on the fate of our ladies: Johanna Konta faced up to seventh seed Roberta Vinci in the second round of the WTA Premier 5 equivalent event in Rome, winning in hugely impressive fashion 6-0 6-4. Qualifier Heather Watson was unable to get past Czech Barbora Strycova, though, going down 6-4 6-2.
In the last 16, Konta fell in three tight sets to Japanese Misaki Doi, failing to convert 5 service games and going within a couple of games of taking the match in the second set at 6-4 5-5, before eventually succumbing 4-6 7-5 6-2 to the world #43.