French Open: Andy Murray undeterred by rain delays in Paris

By Kheredine IdessaneBBC Scotland in Paris
Andy Murray
Andy Murray is targeting his first French Open final appearance
French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 22 May to 5 June
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

The mind tends to wander when the rain's lashing down in Paris, as it has of late.

Against the pitter-patter rhythm of early summer showers dropping on to regularly called-for clay-court covers, the faces of champions past appear in the puddles for an instant before vanishing into the gathering gloom.

Nastase, Borg, Wilander, Lendl, Brugera, Moya, Kuerten. And almost certainly the greatest of them all, Rafa Nadal. He fought back tears in the media room when he had to withdraw, injured.

It was all too much for the tennis Gods, though: the heavens simply opened, releasing what seemed like an eternal deluge.

Rain is no stranger to a certain Scotsman, of course. Andy Murray grew up in Dunblane cursing the sight of the stuff.

How was he supposed to practise on the few courts that did exist when it was chucking it down? There are precious few indoor courts now, never mind in the mid-to-late 1990s, when he was honing his skills however he could.

And to get good on 'terre battue', as they call it here, how on earth is that possible for someone from Scotland, where serviceable clay courts are in short supply on the few days a year when the rain holds off? He went to Barcelona when he was 15 to learn his craft on the red dirt of the Sanchez Casal academy.

But, even at that point, he would have been at least 10 years behind his new rival Rafa, who one guesses pretty much fell on to a clay court from his cot.

Now a clay court contender

Andy Murray
Murray's form on clay has improved in recent years

How remarkable, then, to think that Murray's name could adorn the famous Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy. A notion long-since banished from the realms of the fanciful. He started winning on clay last year and was only stopped from reaching a first French Open final in a five-set struggle with that rather handy journeyman from Serbia, Novak Djokovic.

On the red dirt this year, Murray mopped up another Masters series title - in Rome - having contested the final in Madrid and a semi-final in Monte Carlo. He's a serial clay court contender these days, although it took him a while to find his feet on a more slippery than usual surface here at the Porte d'Auteuil.

As monsieurs Stepanek and Bourgue would attest, he did not play like a world number two against them in the first couple of rounds. What Murray displayed more than anything in those matches was desire and heart - as well as proving what is a fundamental truism in any kind of sport: a win is a win.

Much better tennis followed in the subsequent three rounds as his timing and confidence grew.

Stan stands in the way of final

Stan Wawrinka
Wawrinka is defending his 2015 title at Roland Garros

So here he is at the semi-final stage, the Scot's fourth appearance in the last four at Roland Garros - quite an achievement in itself. And no Rafa or, for now, Novak to worry about. Just the defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who, on his day, can blast anyone off any tennis court, whatever the surface.

Wawrinka was asked, having won as many Grand Slam titles as Murray (two), whether he and the Scot were roughly on the same level? "Oh no," came the reply. "Andy's way ahead of me."

Mind games? Possibly. Modesty? Certainly. Or could it be that the Swiss has genuine admiration for Murray's ability to sustain a high level of consistency at the majors over the past half-decade?

This is Murray's 19th Slam semi-final. If he beats Wawrinka, he'd qualify for his 10th final. Those stats alone are worthy of celebration in this era of Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all jockeying for position as the GOAT. (Greatest Of All Time. Come on, folks, keep up.)

Should Murray still be here for the weekend, he will have reached the final of all four Slams, on all three surfaces.

And if that does indeed come to pass then Dunblane's finest might look to the Parisian skies and thank them for this week's dreadful downpour.

It's not just his sense of humour that's been largely dry these past few days. Murray's side of the draw has been relatively unaffected by the awful weather, meaning he'll have an extra day's rest before the final, should he reach it.

That is another reason why the name Murray might make it on to the famous old trophy and why it could be his reflection that may appear fleetingly to the wistful daydreamer in next year's Roland Garros raindrops.

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