Andy Murray produced his best clay-court performance of 2017 to date at the French Open on Saturday, as Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Fernando Verdasco also cruised into the last 16.
World number one Murray has struggled for form this year, but was back to something like his best in a 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 6-0 triumph over Juan Martin del Potro, who competed strongly for two sets before running out of gas.
Wawrinka – the 2015 champion at Roland Garros – thrashed Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 6-2, while Verdasco dropped only six games as he dumped out 22nd seed Pablo Cuevas and Cilic was similarly clinical in a 6-1 6-3 6-3 victory over Feliciano Lopez.
Saturday’s other victor was Kevin Anderson, but the South African did not enjoy such an easy ride. Anderson was taken to five sets by Kyle Edmund before coming through 6-4 in the decider.
When rain brought a premature halt to proceedings, three matches had still to be completed.
Eighth seed Kei Nishikori led Hyeon Chung by two sets to one, but appeared likely to lose the fourth with his opponent a double-break up. John Isner’s match with Karen Khachanov and the all-French clash between Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet were both nearing the end of set one.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) June 3, 2017
MURRAY COMFORTABLE WITH LONGER FORMAT
As a three-time grand slam champion, Murray knows what it takes to win one of his sport’s premier events and is pleased to be playing longer matches in Paris.
“The five-set format has definitely helped,” said the top seed. “I have maybe not been as anxious going into some of the matches, because I know there is some time to turn it around. But mentally I feel pretty good just now.
“I’m working things out whilst I’m playing the matches, and that’s the really, really important part of my game – making adjustments. When that’s going well, that’s really positive for me.”
FOGNINI FOLDS AGAINST WAWRINKA
It looked like being a challenging day at the office for Wawrinka until Fognini blew his chance to win the opening set.
The Italian threw away three set points and third seed Wawrinka went on to win the subsequent tie-break.
That disappointment kick-started a nine-game losing run for Fognini, during which he received brief treatment on a knee issue.
The world number 29’s best chance at getting back into the match came at 3-2 down in the third, but he squandered three break points, gifting Wawrinka a comfortable 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 6-2 victory.
Wawrinka will face Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils in the fourth round, an entertaining contest between the two Frenchmen on serve at 6-5 to the latter when play was suspended.
Just Monfils doing Monfils-y things…
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 3, 2017
CILIC CHEERY AFTER ANOTHER ROUTINE WIN
Seventh seed Cilic could hardly have asked for a more impressive opening week at Roland Garros.
He dropped just nine games in his opening-round win over Ernests Gulbis, seven against Konstantin Kravchuk in round two and seven again as he breezed past Lopez on Saturday.
“The form is quite good, I have to say,” said the Croatian. “I’m feeling really well. I haven’t spent too much time on the court and I won all the matches quite straightforward, didn’t lose too much energy. That’s definitely extremely important for the upcoming week.”