French Open 2014: Andy Murray sets Wimbledon sights on Rafael Nadal after his humbling in Paris


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The Independent Online

On the basis that the best thing you can do after falling off your bike is to get back on it at the first opportunity, Andy Murray would love to meet Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.

The Scot did not so much take a tumble here at the French Open as find himself crushed by a Spanish juggernaut. The perfect way to ease the pain of Friday's three-set thrashing in the semi-finals would be to beat Nadal at the All England Club, where competition begins a fortnight tomorrow.

"I would like to play him on the grass for sure," Murray said as he licked his wounds following his 100-minute ordeal in the Paris sunshine. "That would mean going deep into the tournament [at Wimbledon]. Someone told me I would be seeded in the top four now so that would mean getting to the semi or the final. Yes, I would like to play him soon."

Although Nadal has won all three of their Wimbledon meetings, twice in the semi-finals and once in the quarter-finals, Murray last played the Spaniard there in 2011. Since then, Murray has won Olympic gold at the All England Club and ended Britain's 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men's singles champion.

Nadal's forehand, struck with heavy top spin, is not such a potent weapon on grass because of the lower bounce of the ball compared with clay. "It's completely different because it is impossible for the ball to bounce that high," Murray said when asked to compare playing Nadal on the two surfaces. "It is also easier to get free points on your serve and grass favours the person who hits the flatter ball. That is why it is completely different."

The 6-3 6-2 6-1 defeat to Nadal here was the heaviest of Murray's Grand Slam career. "I hope over the next two or three days I will able to look back on a positive tournament," Murray said. "It's just disappointing right now."

The Scot equalled his best performance at Roland Garros by reaching the semi-finals, but just as important was the fact that he came through the tournament without any physical issues. Murray missed the French Open last year after aggravating a back injury which required surgery in September.

"Clay is the surface I had the most problems on with my back," he said. "The grass is fairly straightforward when I've been having problems with my back. That's a positive and I know my back is going to be fine for the next few weeks.

"I thought I did a fairly good job this week of recovering from the matches and dealing with the five-setters. I had not played any for quite a long time, since Wimbledon in fact. It's very different playing best of five sets."

Murray is expected to climb three places to No 5 in tomorrow's updated world rankings list. Because Wimbledon gives extra weight to results on grass, the Scot looks likely to be seeded No 4, which would mean that he could not face Nadal or Novak Djokovic until the semi-finals.

Before starting the defence of his Wimbledon title, Murray will set about retaining his crown at this week's Aegon Championships at Queen's Club. The tournament starts tomorrow, though Murray is unlikely to play his first match before Wednesday.

"The better you do at the French Open, the harder Queen's becomes," Murray said. "You really only have a couple of days to get used to the grass again and get ready for it. It will be a tough time for me but hopefully when Wimbledon comes around I will have had enough time on the grass and will have had a few matches at Queen's so I can get ready for a fun few weeks."

While Nadal and Roger Federer begin their grass-court campaigns at this week's tournament in the German town of Halle, the Aegon Championships have attracted a field that includes Stanislas Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Grigor Dimitrov, Ernests Gulbis and Lleyton Hewitt.

After a first-round bye, Murray will play either France's Paul-Henri Mathieu or Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene. Thereafter, the Scot is seeded to meet Radek Stepanek in the third round, Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals and Berdych in the semi-finals.

Wawrinka and Dimitrov are the top seeds in the other half of the draw. The three Britons with wild cards have all avoided seeds in the first round.

Dan Evans, James Ward and Dan Cox face Austria's Jurgen Melzer, Slovenia's Blaz Rola and France's Adrian Mannarino respectively.