Andy Murray has sought to swing mind games in his favour, ahead of his Round of 16 French Open clash with local boy Richard Gasquet, by claiming the Frenchman would head into the game as favourite. The pair will take to the courts...
Murray, ranked number four in the world, is 16 places above his opponent but has claimed the rankings do not mean he is the favourite to win.
"I wouldn't necessarily see myself as the favourite for the match. Obviously he beat me a couple of weeks ago (at the Rome Masters). He's going to have the crowd behind him and I think right now this is probably his best surface," Reuters quoted the Scot as saying.
"It's going to be a tough match, but when I played him here last time, I hung in, I fought really hard, and just managed to turn the match around, and I did the same thing at Wimbledon. When he plays well, he's a very tough guy to beat. He plays some unbelievable shots," Murray added to Reuters.
The 25 year old advanced to the match against Gasquet, courtesy of a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Santiago Giraldo on Saturday.
Both players began the match well, with neither able to force an early break of serve. However, a backhand winner from Murray in the sixth game allowed him to register the first breakthrough. Murray pressed that advantage by serving out his remaining games to claim the opening set.
Murray's streak of 22 straight points on his service game ended during the next set but it did not seem to affect the British number one, as he broke the world number 50 once more to open up a two-game advantage. Giraldo had his first break points of the match in the set but he Colombian was unable to take them and Murray fought back to win the set.
The final set followed the same pattern, with Murray requiring just one break of Giraldo's serve to record his place in round four and the Scot took his chance.
Meanwhile, Gasquet produced a brilliant performance to reach the last 16, at the expense of Tommy Haas, with a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 win on Saturday.
The German-born American took the opening set but the Frenchman came back strongly in the second, securing two breaks to level the match at a set apiece. The third and fourth sets, however, were an entirely different kettle of fish with Gasquet hammering his superiority home almost effortlessly; the crowd favourite won them both without dropping a game.
Murray and Gasquet have a 3-3 head-to-head record, with the Frenchman having won their last game, which was also on clay. Incidentally, the game is also a repeat of a First Round encounter from two years ago, when Murray fought back from being two sets down to beat Gasquet 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.