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Page last updated at 18:55 GMT, Monday, 25 May 2009 19:55 UK

Murray off to a flyer in Paris

By Kheredine Idessane
BBC Scotland at the French Open

Andy Murray
Murray has targeted a place in the second week at Roland Garros

In arguably the most romantic city in the world, Andy Murray has already kissed his first opponent goodbye in the Parisian sunshine.

As the lovers stroll across the Pont Neuf and the tourists flock to the Tower, the world number three has been in ruthless form here at Roland Garros, just a few miles down the Seine from Gustave Eiffel's iconic landmark.

The way he demolished an Argentine clay-court specialist in just over an hour and 40 minutes for the loss of only five games is a strong indication that he fully intends to fulfil his pre-tournament wish. Namely, to get through to the second week, something he's yet to achieve on the Roland Garros red dirt.

Of course, Juan Ignacio Chela was out of the game for eight months with back problems, so Murray was expected to see him off fairly comfortably.

But the 6-2 6-2 6-1 scoreline is proof that he no longer comes to these championships merely in hope. He now expects to do well.

And his recent results on clay (a first ever semi-final at Monte Carlo and a quarter-final in Madrid) are a sure sign of his progress on the surface.

And his results this year, with three tour wins to his name already, mean he comes here playing the best tennis of his life. Only Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won more matches this term.

That said, Murray has never been beyond the third round here. To get to that stage again, he'll have to defeat an Italian he's never played on the senior tour before. But it will come as a major surprise if Potito Starace, at 105 in the world, holds him up for too long when they go head to head on Wednesday.

And, if he does bid Starace 'arrividerci', the rest of Murray's initial draw doesn't look overly frightening. If the seeds play to form, he would then face the world number 30 Feliciano Lopez in the third round.

He's beaten him in both their previous meetings. And the Spaniard had to come from two sets down in a mammoth first-round match against the Brazilian qualifier, Franco Ferreiro.


Looking further ahead, a potential fourth-round opponent could be the number 13 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia (2-0 to Murray in the head to head) while the highest seed he could meet in a potential quarter-final would be the home favourite and world number 7, Gilles Simon (who Murray beat three times last year without dropping a set).

A first ever semi-final here would, however, be a more tricky affair. The world number one Rafael Nadal is in Murray's half of the draw. If the Spaniard is the King of Clay then he's certainly also the Roi de Roland Garros.

It's not just that he's won the last four titles, beating Roger Federer in the last three finals. He's actually never lost a match here.

Still not impressed? His first-round win has given him another piece of history on these courts as he is now the record holder for the most consecutive matches won here.

At 29-in-a-row, he has gone one better than the legendary Bjorn Borg.

If Andy Murray were to alter that statistic, it would easily be the best win of his career.

Let's not get too ahead of ourselves, however. There is plenty of work to be done before any thoughts can turn to the defending champion. Whether he gets as far as Nadal or not, I'm fully expecting the British number one to break new ground here in Paris this year.

And, if he does, it could well be the start of a lasting love affair.

Where better to have one than Paris.

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see also
Murray plays down Paris prospects
25 May 09 |  Tennis
Ruthless Murray storms past Chela
24 May 09 |  Tennis

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