Murray now a genuine contender for Nadal's crown

Mon May 11, 2015 8:04am EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray...French Open champion!

That notion would have been dismissed out of hand in years gone by but he will journey to Roland Garros later this month with many backing the Briton to go all the way.

Until last week he had never won a claycourt title.

But, after claiming his first in Munich, he headed to Madrid where he blazed through a tough draw before crushing claycourt king Rafa Nadal in the final.

A year ago Murray managed only six games in a semi-final defeat by Nadal at the French Open as the Spaniard rolled on towards a ninth title at the claycourt grand slam.

He also reached the semis in 2011, so his record in the French capital is not shoddy, but by common consent the red dust was not a surface suited to Murray's game.

Yet something has changed and with Nadal struggling, the 27-year-old could be the man to exploit the Spaniard's troubles, even if Novak Djokovic is now the favorite to win the title.

British bookmaker William Hill shortened Murray's French Open odds from 12-1 to 8-1 after his 6-3 6-2 win over Nadal in Madrid, with Nadal at 9-4 and Djokovic the 5-6 favorite.   Continued...

Britain's Andy Murray (R) and Spain's Rafael Nadal hold their trophies after their final match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 10, 2015. REUTERS/Sergio Perez