Andy Murray’s serene progress to the French Open quarter-finals has not persuaded deposed champion Rafael Nadal the British number one is ready to lift the Roland Garros crown.
There will be a new name on the trophy this year following Nadal’s shock defeat by Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the fourth round yesterday.
It has left the door ajar for Murray, who is in Nadal’s half of the draw, to stake a serious claim for a first grand slam title of his career, but the Spaniard believes there are other candidates more likely to be his successor.
“(Roger) Federer is the favourite, in my opinion,” said the Mallorcan, who was bidding to win in Paris for the fifth year running.
“That would be great. He’s tried to win it for many years and he was very unfortunate to lose three finals and one semi-final (all to Nadal).
“If one guy deserves it, it’s him. There is also (Nikolay) Davydenko. (Juan Martin) Del Potro is there I think. We will see.”
Murray’s name was conspicuous by its absence but the Scot certainly has a great chance now.
The third seed set up a quarter-final meeting with Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez thanks to yesterday’s straight-sets win over Marin Cilic.
Gonzalez, the 12th seed, earned his place in the last eight by hitting 50 winners in a 6-2 6-4 6-2 victory over beleaguered 30th seed Victor Hanescu.
Murray became the third British man, after Roger Taylor in 1973 and Tim Henman in 2004, to reach this stage at Roland Garros.
“Every time you do something like that, it’s nice,” said Murray.
“Tim obviously made the semis here so it would nice to try and match that.
“I always felt I could play well on clay.”
Murray is scheduled to play Gonzalez tomorrow. They have met each other twice before, the Briton winning in the third round of the US Open in 2006 and the South American triumphing in Basle in 2005.
Second seed Federer, who needs to win the French Open to complete his set of grand slam titles and join Pete Sampras on 14 major wins, takes on unseeded Tommy Haas today.
It was a bad day for the reigning champions all round yesterday – Ana Ivanovic was dumped out of the women’s singles in straight sets by Victoria Azarenka.