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'Stone Hand' gives Murray a beating, sets up Soderling clash

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-03

Britain's Andy Murray (photo) crashed out of the French Open after losing in four sets to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez. The Chilean, nicknamed Stone Hand, will now face Robin Soderling, who earlier thumped Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals.

AFP - Chilean 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez reached his first French Open semi-final after a 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory over British third seed Andy Murray here on Tuesday.

World number 12 Gonzalez will meet 23rd seed Robin Soderling in the last four, the Swede having beaten Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets in his quarter-final.

 

Gonzalez, who hadn't dropped a set before his encounter with Murray, will now bid to reach his first Grand Slam final since his runner-up appearance at the 2007 Australian Open.

"I was playing really hard and I tried to dominate with my forehand," said Gonzalez.

"I know he's not used to the ball bouncing high because he doesn't play on clay much. I took every chance that he gave me and that was really important in the fourth set."

Murray conceded that the Chilean's powerful forehand had made the difference.

"I have to give him a lot of credit," the 22-year-old said.

"I've played against him before and he hits it hard, but today he was hitting it huge. It's easy to look from the side and think you could have done this, you could have done that, but the guy was just hitting it so hard.

"The start of the third set was disappointing. I had a couple of chances to hold serve and I didn't take them, and at the end of the match I played poor."

A strong start from Gonzalez forced Murray to save four break points in his first service game and the Chilean survived a break point on his own serve before breaking in game eight with a whipped forehand from the net.

There was to be no way back in the first set for Murray, the world number three, who survived two set points before the 28-year-old Gonzalez wrapped things up with a crashing forehand down the line.

Murray began to enjoy success by avoiding Gonzalez's booming forehand and he went 4-2 up in the second set after converting the last of four break points.

The Scot served out to level the match but gifted Gonzalez an early break in the third set, swiping the ground with his racquet in frustration after hooking a forehand into the tramlines.

Gonzalez secured a double-break when Murray rattled a forehand into the top of the net and the Chilean sealed a third-set whitewash when his adversary smashed a simple overhead volley into the net at 0-5 and 15-40 down.

An exasperated Murray looked dead and buried at 5-4 down on Gonzalez's serve in the fourth set but he managed to break back when his opponent sliced a backhand wide.

It proved a temporary reprieve, though, as Murray handed Gonzalez three match points with a netted drop shot before seeing a forehand clip the top of the net and bounce back on his side to confirm his exit from the competition.

Date created : 2009-06-02

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