ANDY MURRAY is very much aware of the threat posed by Madrid Masters quarter-final opponent Gael Monfils, a player he believes is right at the top of his game at the moment.
Frenchman Monfils will be looking to claim the scalp of his third successive seed when he takes on the Briton, having already knocked out 12th seed Fernando Gonzalez and No8 Andy Roddick this week.
That continues a fine run of recent form for the 22-year-old, who in his last four tournaments has reached the final in Vienna, the semi-finals in Bangkok and the Olympic quarter-finals and the fourth round of the US Open.
Murray knows the Parisian could pose a real danger.
“Monfils is playing his best tennis just now, he made the final last week,” said Murray, who in his previous two meetings with Monfils has recorded one win and one defeat.
“He’s one of the best athletes on the tour that’s for sure.”
In yesterday’s third round Murray faced 6ft 6in Croatian Marin Cilic and found it difficult at the outset before finding his rhythm and going on to claim a 7-5 7-6 (7/2) victory.
There are big expectations for 20-year-old Cilic in 2009, but Murray does not believe the future of the sport will necessarily see the taller man start to dominate.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said.
“I think tall guys will always do well. I think that if you are above 6ft 4in, 6ft 5in there are a lot of advantages, but on slower courts it can be quite a big disadvantage.
“Cilic is obviously a good player and will be around for a long time, I don’t know how good he will be but he will definitely be around for a long time.”
However, Murray will be less concerned with the height of his opponents than the state of his long-standing knee injury.
Murray looked troubled by the problem early on in his match with Cilic, but the world number four is hopeful it is nothing serious.
“I’ve had it a lot of times this year, I just have to try and find a way to get through it,” he said.
“It’s not like I’m doing myself a whole lot of extra damage, I just need to make sure that I deal with it properly after the match and as long as the pain is bearable I will try to play with it.”
If Murray beats Monfils then he will face either Juan Martin Del Potro or Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
Del Potro said of Murray: “For me he is one of the most intelligent players on the tour, he looks like he’s in good shape and I think he can beat any of the best players in the world.”