Murray the form player but Djokovic the man to beat in Paris

Thu May 19, 2016 9:29am EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray has been the standout performer on clay for the past 12 months but world number one Novak Djokovic will be favorite to complete his set of grand slams at this year's French Open.

Murray, according to the ATP Performance Zone stats, has won 85 percent of his matches on the red dust this year and last, more than any other player.

Having been at 70 percent for the first 10 years of his career, the improvement demonstrates just how at home the Briton now feels on a surface he once treated with suspicion.

His victory over Djokovic in Sunday's Italian Open final may have been aided by his opponent's energy levels being drained after a grueling semi-final win over Kei Nishikori the night before. But it also was a timely statement of intent from the world number two, who recently split with coach Amelie Mauresmo.

"The last couple of years, clay has probably been my most successful surface, which I never expected to be the case," twice grand slam champion Murray said.

"But I'm not complaining about it. I'm going to Roland Garros with a lot of confidence."

Djokovic's loss to Murray -- only his second in their last 14 meetings -- will have planted a few seeds of doubt in the Serb's mind as he again targets the one major to elude him.

After edging past Murray in last year's semi-finals, the career slam seemed to be in the palm of his hand but he was hijacked in the final by a swashbuckling Stan Wawrinka.   Continued...

Murray returns the ball.  REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi