Briton Andy Murray reached the semi-finals of the ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence to boost his preparation on clay before Roland-Garros.
The 35-year-old beat French teenager Luca van Assche 6-2 7-6 (8-6) to reach the last four of the event, which is one level below the main ATP Tour.
Murray entered on a wild card to get more match time after first-round exits from Monte Carlo and Madrid last month.
The triple Grand Slam champion will then face Alexander Bublik or Harold Mayot.
Murray is in the hunt for a first title since 2019 as he prepares to make what would be just his second French Open appearance in six years when the Grand Slam kicks off on May 28.
Scotland’s fifth seed won four games in a row to claim the first set against 18-year-old home prospect Van Assche before being pushed harder in the second.
He had two match points on the Frenchman’s serve at 5-4 but failed to convert them, finding himself caught in a tie-break where he immediately made a mini-break with a wayward backhand.
Murray saved two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break before claiming the next four points in a row, sealing victory when Van Assche sent a long backhand.
He greeted this with a roaring “yes!” and his obvious enjoyment of progress continued after the handshake at net when he continued to pump his fist and scream as he celebrated a string of three wins in a row on his least favorite surface.
Raducanu has his second operation of the week
As Murray continues her bid to return to the top of her sport after career-threatening hip surgery four years ago, Britain’s number one Emma Raducanu announced this week that she will be sidelined for ” a few months” when she hand and ankle surgery.
After posting a photo of her right hand in bandages after what she described as her first “minor procedure” on Wednesday, she posted a new one on Friday sitting in a wheelchair with her left ankle also now bandaged and the caption “2/3” followed by a smiling, heart emoji.
“I just had my ankle redone, so two out of three are done and one remains, but not for two weeks,” the 2021 US Open champion said in an Instagram Live.
The 20-year-old is set to miss Roland Garros as well as the grass-court season, including Wimbledon, as she seeks to end the injuries and worries that have plagued her career since her stunning triumph in New York.
Alcaraz turns 20 by reaching Madrid final
At the same time as Murray boosted his confidence with a few wins on clay, world number two Carlos Alcaraz underscored his credentials as a French Open title favorite by reaching the final in Madrid.
The Spaniard, who will be looking to win his second Grand Slam title after winning the US Open last year, celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday by beating Croatian Borna Coric 6-4 6-3 to set up a final against Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev. or the lucky German loser Jan-Lennard Struff.
Alcaraz, whose French Open chances have been boosted due to fitness issues on the 14-time champion Raphael Nadal And Novak Djokovic, will be aiming for his fourth ATP title of the year in Sunday’s final. He is also the title holder.
“It means a lot to me to play a final here in Madrid again. It’s such a special place for me. I have great memories since I came here to play under-12s,” Alcaraz said. .
“Last year was amazing. I will enjoy the final and try to make all of Spain happy. I don’t think about the pressure here.
“I just think about playing great games and getting good results. I’m enjoying every second here.”