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Andy Murray began this year's Roland Garros by winning his 100th main tour match on clay. Today he secured his 650th tour level win in a routine win over the big hitting, but ultimately raw and inexperienced, Karen Khachanov. As Andy left the court after paying tribute to the victims of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, over on court Suzanne Lenglen his quarterfinal opponent Kei Nishikori was fighting his way back into his last sixteen match against Fernando Verdasco. The match began with the Japanese man being 'bageled' and ended with him turning the tables on the Spaniard.
Nishikori, like Andy, has had fitness issues over recent months and a wrist injury saw him withdraw from Barcelona before play began, give a walkover to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal of the Madrid Masters, struggle for rhythm in Rome, and take a wildcard for the Geneva ATP 250 tournament the week before the French Open began. He dropped the first set to Kokkinakis in the first round, and dominated Chardy in the second round, before going into a five set battle against the extremely promising youngster Hyeon Chung in the third round, before defeating Verdasco to make his second quarterfinal at Roland Garros.
This will be the eleventh meeting between Andy and Nishikori. Andy dominated the scorelines with straight sets wins from their first meeting in 2011 through to their sixth meeting in August 2015 - with the exception of Nishikori defeating a physically and mentally exhausted Andy at the O2 in 2014 - but in 2016 things changed. They faced each other four times last season and all bar one match - the Olympic semifinal - went the distance. Andy won three of the four, but lost in a strange five set match at Flushing Meadows.
They have only played once on clay, at the Madrid Masters in 2015, where most commentators and pundits predicted Andy would lose to Nishikori, only for him to play one of his best ever matches on the surface on the way to lifting his first Master's title on the 'terre battue'. The world number nine has not won a title in over a year, but he's digging in his heels at Roland Garros. His results on clay are good, with a final appearance in Madrid in 2014 and two Barcelona titles to his name. Nishikori returns well and has one of the best and hardest to read backhands in the game.
The match will be played on Wednesday 7th June, third on court Philippe Chatrier, at an estimated start time of 4pm local time, 3pm BST, and 9am CDT. The weather is forecast to be sunny with some cloud at the time the match is scheduled to start, but rain is forecast for mid-moring and early afternoon, highs of 19 degrees Celsius, humidity of 37%, and a south-westerly wind of 11mph.
Andy leads the head-to-head 8-2. Thanks to Bev for the image.
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