Consistency key for Murray

  • Last Updated: May 24 2014, 15:05 BST

Andy Murray is hoping to carry his encouraging form in Rome into the French Open as he searches for consistency in his game.

Andy Murray: Preparing for the French Open
Andy Murray: Preparing for the French Open

The Scot has been up and down since returning from back surgery at the start of the season and is looking for his first title since winning Wimbledon last summer.

He has managed just one semi-final in 2014, in Acapulco in February, and there have been some notable lows, particularly his abject performance against Santiago Giraldo in the third round in Madrid earlier this month.

But there have also been flashes of brilliance to indicate a return to his best form may not be too far away.

He made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and at the Masters tournament in Miami while last week in Rome he very nearly beat Rafael Nadal on clay for the first time.

For a set Murray made Nadal look ordinary and, although he could not quite complete the job, it was enough to send him to Paris with a spring in his step and his hopes high of a good run on his least favourite surface.

Encouragingly there do not appear to be any signs of the back problems that flared up on clay last year, causing him to miss the French Open and, in September, undergo surgery.

Murray said: "I was fairly happy with the start of the season with how I responded from the surgery in Australia.

"I thought I did pretty well there. I thought I played a fairly high level in the quarter-finals against Roger (Federer). Physically, endurance-wise, I probably wasn't quite ready to go the whole way there.

"And then Davis Cup was fairly good for me. But since then it was very patchy. Some good stuff mixed in with some bad tennis.

"Rome was a good step forward. I need to build on that, take confidence from it, and I need to try and keep that consistency for the next four or five months if I can.

"Right now obviously I've got a big focus on these next couple of weeks, and hopefully I can have a good run."

Roland Garros has been Nadal's personal fiefdom, the Spaniard winning the title in eight of the last nine years, but he arrived in Paris with serious question marks over his chances of retaining his crown for a fifth straight year.

Nadal has lost three matches on clay in the build-up for the first time in a decade and his world number one ranking is under serious threat from Novak Djokovic.

Murray is certainly not writing off his friend and rival, though, saying: "Normally when the tournament starts, whether Rafa has been playing well or not, I would expect him to play great tennis here.

"I would expect Novak to play great tennis here. Roger I would also expect to play very well.

"That's what they have done. So there is nothing there to suggest that they are all of a sudden going to stop performing well in the slams and struggle.

"I would expect them to all have great tournaments. But who wins depends on who plays the best at the end of the event really, and we don't know that because we can't predict the future."

Murray, whose best performance at Roland Garros was a semi-final defeat by Nadal in 2011, will play his first match on either Monday or Tuesday against Kazakh Andrey Golubev.

The pair have met once before in a tour-level match, in the final in St Petersburg in 2008, with Murray winning 6-1 6-1.

Golubev, ranked 55th, is potentially dangerous, though, and he showed his talent in the Davis Cup in April by beating Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka.

Murray said: "I played him in the finals of St Petersburg quite a while ago when he was just coming through. He's obviously been playing on the tour pretty much ever since then.

"He's had some good wins. He's a very dangerous player, big forehand, goes for his shots. He doesn't hold back. When he's on, he's a very tough guy to beat."