Murray survives Del Potro test
Originally published on 03/06/17 00:00
It was the world No.1's most impressive perfomance of 2017 and he will play either John Isner or Karen Khachanov on Monday.
Del Potro came out the blocks firing on all cylinders. He thumped his serve, punctured the lines with his forehand and had the top seed scurrying and scrambling. The Argentinian appeared destined to bag the first set, however the dogged Brit roared back and forced a tiebreak.
The breaker ebbed and flowed as both players squandered opportunities to seize the initiative. A wayward forehand from Del Potro proved to be the telling difference, though, and the Wimbledon champion skipped to his chair with the first set in his pocket.
The Argentinian, still nursing a groin-strain, was left crestfallen after conceding the opener. The second set was another close affair – filled with explosive rallies – but Murray’s court-craft and excellent use of the dropshot proved to be significant as he doubled his advantage.
The third set was a procession as Murray finished with a flurry.
“The first set was very, very important,” admitted last year's finalist. “I think whoever won that first set had big momentum, it was like an hour and 30 minutes, and in these condition when it’s very slow and heavy it’s difficult to come back.
”It was tough because I think he [Del Potro] was playing much better than me in the first set. I think in the 5-4 game, he had a set-point and I had some game points, then in the tiebreak I had some set-points but didn’t get them – so both of us had some chances in the first set and in the second set. Thankfully I was able to take a few more of my opportunities, but the first two sets could have gone either way.”
Stan Wawrinka made it four straight-set wins in a row after a 7-6(2) 6-0 6-2 success over Fabio Fognini. The enigmatic Italian squandered three set-point opportunities in the opener and struggled to rebound from the disappointment.
It’s now seven wins on the bounce for Wawrinka and afterwards he said: “It’s very difficult to play Fabio because he’s really unpredictable. He can play very quickly and can vary the tempo a lot. I knew it was important to play my rhythm and not let him dictate points. It was a really great first set, I played really well. I’m really pleased with how I battled. I moved a lot better after the first set.”
He continued: “I’ve got great memories of Roland Garros from my last few years and it’s always great to return. With every round it gets tougher but I feel really good. I hope to carry on in the same vein.”
Marin Cilic hit 31 winners as he eased past Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-3 6-3. It was another commanding display from the former US Open champion however his Spanish opponent looked jaded after his four hour ordeal with David Ferrer in the previous round.
“My return was a standout today,” said Cilic. ‘The conditions were a lot heavier today, the ball was not going through the court as much and that favoured me a little bit more as Feli obviously has a huge serve.
“It’s extremely important to win the match as quick as possible, but obviously that’s never easy. I’m extremely satisfied with my game – especially in the last couple of months and I’m playing a really high level of tennis this week.”
Cilic’s next opponent will be the big-serving South African, Kevin Anderson, who defeated Kyle Edmund 6-7(6) 7-6(4) 5-7 6-1 6-4 in a match of few chances.
Fernando Verdasco is also safely through after a convincing 6-2 6-1 6-3 success over clay-court specialist, Pablo Cuevas.