2012 French Open Previews: Andy Murray
Red clay hasn't exactly been a salvation surface for Murray: The three-time Grand Slam finalist has yet to reach a clay-court final in his career, and sometimes struggles to finish points on dirt. A suggestion of Murray breaking through to reach the French Open final may sound as realistic as the Tour de France opting to become an off-road race, but scratch beneath the surface of his game and you'll find qualities conducive to clay-court success.
Clay rewards patience and physicality, and Murray's superb quickness, supreme conditioning, and consistency helped him reach the Roland Garros semifinals last year. His multi-purpose two-handed backhand, deft drop shot, and ability to use the entire court are all assets on the terre battue. The Scot, who grew up training on clay in Spain, should be bolstered by coach Ivan Lendl, a three-time French Open champion.
Reason to Hope: Murray has reached five consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, is willing to grind, and can use his finesse to take opponents out of their comfort zone. He is one of the fittest and fastest players in the game, qualities which play well in Paris.
Reason to Worry: The Scot struggles to finish points with his forehand—a must on a slow court—and has looked too passive on dirt this season in losses to Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Richard Gasquet.
The Last Word: If the draw is kind and Murray plays with ambition—and uses his variety of shots to bamboozle opponents rather than resort to the chase-and-counter tennis he sometimes plays—he can go deep into second week.