John McEnroe backs Andy Murray to reach French Open final

Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka celebrates winning his fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament against France's Gael Monfils in three sets 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2, Monday at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France.

The World No.1, runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2016, brushed aside Karen Khachanov of Russian Federation 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

In his first match against a world number one, the 1.96-metre tall Khachanov cracked down 34 clean winners to Murray's 29 but it was all to no avail as the Briton kept him at arm's length to seal a clash with eighth seed Kei Nishikori.

"Obviously there was a bad tragedy in London and Manchester".

"Paris has had some problems in the last few years and I'm sure everyone will join me in sharing the fact that our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this".

"I obviously want things to keep getting better, and obviously appreciate everyone still coming out to support the tennis and creating a fantastic atmosphere".

Nishikori, who advanced through a five-set thriller on Sunday, had to come back from one set down to see off Fernando Verdasco 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

Nishikori surpassed Jiro Sato, who died in 1934, for the most quarterfinal appearances by a Japanese man, as he made the last eight for the second time in three years in Paris. He did win their quarter-final at the US Open but Murray was running on empty by that stage of the summer.

In 2015, Nishikori reached the quarterfinals at the major tournament.

"I don't think he was as far away as people were saying".

But the second seed steadied the ship to go through 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. Murray's head-to-head record against Nishikori is 8-2. Last year's finalist could bounce back immediately after suffering two breaks in the third set.

Surprisingly, the Japanese player struggled to even recall the match when asked on Monday: "I don't even know if I won or lost". The 30-year-old has dropped just one set in five meetings with Thiem and brushed aside the Austrian easily in last year's Roland Garros semi-finals.

On this occasion, Murray's performance was more workmanlike than stylish against a powerful 21-year-old opponent on Court Philippe Chatrier. "Each match I feel like I played better".

Women's title favorite and 2014 runner-up Simona Halep trounced Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-1, 6-1 to make the last eight without dropping a set or breaking sweat.

On the women's side, second seed Karolina Pliskova had to rally for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Veronica Cepede Royg.

The two compatriots have been involved in a recent feud over the Fed Cup and are barely on speaking terms.

Neither Murray nor Nishikori has ever won the French Open.

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"When it's like that you need some hard and long matches in the early rounds to get yourself going".

  • Julie Sanders