Andy Murray

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French Open Column

French Open Column

Trying to win tournaments I’ve never won before is a huge motivation, but I’m not trying to compete with Stan Wawrinka in terms of the numbers.

I know Stan and I have both won three Grand Slams but I don’t compare myself with other players in that sense. It’s not what I’m playing for.

Over the last few years Stan has played great in the Slams, he’s been very consistent.

In the US Open final last year he definitely deserved to win. I also think when he played the French Open final here with Novak Djokovic, he played extremely well.

He deserves the titles that he’s got but his success doesn’t affect how I feel about mine.

Whether it’s Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak or Stan, I don’t need to think about the amount of Slams they have for any motivation.

‘Physically I was hampered on the clay’

Four or five years ago, I don’t think anyone would have thought I’d have a chance to win a French Open.

I never would have expected to reach the semis here five times and play in the final at the beginning of my career, no chance.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t think I could play well on this surface.

I do feel like in the middle part of my career, physically I was hampered a bit on the clay. I did struggle a lot with my back for a couple of years and that didn’t help, but I got to the quarter-finals for the first time back in 2009 when I was still pretty young.

I had some chances in that match against Fernando Gonzalez too. I actually watched it back a few weeks ago and I played some good stuff.

It’s always quite interesting to see how your game’s changed, so I just watched some of my matches over the years at the French Open.

I was surprised, because my perception of my clay-court game when I was younger was that it was bad – that I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t play well, struggled with my movement – but when I actually watched it back I was pretty good!

‘I’m pumped to be close to a second final’

It’s interesting as athletes how we can view performances very differently at the time, and then with a little bit of distance.

I didn’t feel like I played particularly well against Kei Nishikori on Wednesday, and that might have been the case, but there have been plenty of matches where I thought I played great, and looked back and went ‘wow!’ because it really wasn’t great tennis.

Sometimes your perception can come from what other people are saying about you – that you’re not able to play on clay, or that you’re just not good enough – and it’s important sometimes to get that little bit of distance and then actually watch it back.

At the beginning of the clay-court season we looked at a couple of matches from 2016, because I did feel I played well on the clay last year, and one of those matches was the semi-final against Stan in Paris.

It had nothing to do with a potential rematch, it was just to see what I was doing well and how I would like to play.

Unfortunately that didn’t really transpire any at any of the events up until now, but thankfully things are finally coming together.

I feel physically strong and to be in a position now where I could potentially reach a second French Open final in two years is great, I’m pumped about that.

Obviously I want to try and win the tournament now I’m in the semis but it’s going to be bloody hard because of the players that are left.

As we’ve seen so often though, anything can happen over the next few days.