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Murray doubted reaching French final

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Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic

French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 22 May to 5 June
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number one Andy Murray has said there was a time he thought he would never reach a French Open final.

The 29-year-old will face world number one Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2.

“At the beginning of my career it was always a big struggle for me,” Murray told BBC Radio 5 live.

“When I was having problems with my back on clay I never thought it would happen for me here.”

Murray has now reached the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments, but up until 2013, the year he had surgery on a back injury, he had reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros just once.

But the world number two made the final four in 2014 and 2015 – going out to Djokovic last year – and has been in impressive form on clay this season, winning 18 of 20 matches on the surface.

“Reaching the French Open final is definitely not something I thought I’d do,” he said.

“Last year I started to have the belief that I could do it. It’s great credit to my team to get my body healthy.”

Facing an old foe

Murray v Djokovic

Djokovic, 29, who has won every Grand Slam except the French Open, holds a substantial 23-10 lead in his career head-to-head with Murray, but the Scot won their last meeting, beating the Serb on clay in the final of the Rome Masters.

BBC Radio 5 live commentator and 1987 Wimbledon winner Pat Cash suggested the damp conditions in Paris this week may favour Murray.

“I don’t know who the conditions will suit, Novak plays well on all the courts,” said Murray.

“It probably means there will be long rallies, you have to be patient in these conditions. It’s not easy to hit winners.”

Djokovic has reached three of the last four French Open finals, and lost them all.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a final with a lot of emotions and exchanges from the baseline because we have a similar style of game,” he said.

“I know his game he knows mine – I’m sure we’ll both give it our all.”

Teaching a French legend?

Eric Cantona

Murray was seen chatting with former Manchester United and France striker Eric Cantona after his semi-final victory.

And it seems Murray may have arranged himself a teaching job for later in the summer.

“We mainly spoke about football. Not too much tennis,” said Murray.

“He said he’s just had three tennis lessons. I told him if he’s ever around the Wimbledon area I’d take him for a lesson at Wimbledon.”

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