Murray bags place in last 16 as Baghdatis is brushed aside
Marcos Baghdatis is still one of a select group of players who have won more matches against Andy Murray than they have lost, but the 24-year-old Cypriot was given a tennis lesson for much of their third-round match in the French Open yesterday.
Apart from a strange third set in which Murray appeared to lose all concentration, Baghdatis never looked capable of blocking the Scot's progress into the second week here for only the second time in his career.
Murray's 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 victory earned a meeting in the last 16 with the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych, who crushed the big-serving John Isner for the loss of only five games. Berdych, the world No 17, and Murray have shared one victory apiece, but have not met for four years.
Baghdatis had won both his previous matches against Murray, but since their most recent meeting they have travelled in different directions. Baghdatis, who in 2006 reached the final of the Australian Open and the semi- finals at Wimbledon, has struggled with injuries and failed to regain his place in the world's top 20, while Murray has cemented his place in the game's elite.
With his white bandana, ponytail and facial stubble, there is something of the swashbuckling pirate about Baghdatis, whose game can be as dashing as his appearance. On this occasion, however, there was more buckle than swash. The world No 30 did not serve well and his usual spark was missing.
That was largely down to the clever game Murray played. The Scot frequently took the pace off the ball, made few mistakes and forced Baghdatis into long rallies. While the Cypriot hit more winners – 44 to Murray's 28 – there were lengthy passages in which he was outplayed.
The Paris public appreciate Baghdatis, who spent most of his teenage years training at the city's Mouratoglou academy, but a slow start to the match, with both players taking time to find their rhythm, kept the crowd on a sunny Court Suzanne Lenglen subdued. The biggest cheers were reserved for Pascal Maria, the French umpire, when he came on court to examine a mark.
It was not long, however, before Murray put his foot on the accelerator. He broke twice from 2-2 to take the first set in 35 minutes and broke again at the start of the second set before playing a loose game to allow Baghdatis to level at 1-1.
With the second set in the bag Murray appeared to be coasting, but the third, in which he won just 10 points, saw an extraordinary turnaround. As the Scot suddenly lost his range on his shots, Baghdatis and the crowd came to life.
Two double-faults handed Baghdatis a break of serve in the opening game of the fourth set, but Murray broke back immediately and took a decisive 4-2 lead by breaking again with a brilliant half-volley backhand winner down the line followed by a classic cross-court backhand.
"Once I got the break in the first set I started playing some really good tennis for a couple of sets and finished really well at the end,'' Murray said.
Dismissing the third as simply "a bad set'', Murray said: "Once I got the break back at the beginning of the fourth set I started hitting the ball a lot better. He's a difficult guy to play against because he's a great shot-maker and very unpredictable. You need to be focused all the time, and I wasn't in the third set.''
Murray described Berdych as "a big guy with a big serve'' and added: "He hits the ball hard and flat. He takes a lot of risks. He plays low percentage tennis maybe, but that's how he's always played.
The world's top three all progressed with straight-sets victories. Roger Federer beat a German qualifier, Julian Reiste, while Rafael Nadal, who now plays Lleyton Hewitt, beat Horacio Zeballos for the loss of just seven games. Novak Djokovic beat Japan's Kei Nishikori but needed two hours and 40 minutes to overcome the world No 246.
The No 12 seed, Fernando Gonzalez, who beat Murray in last year's quarter-finals, lost 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to the Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, who is making his debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.
Men's singles: Third round: A Murray (GB) bt M Baghdatis (Cyp) 6-2 6-3 0-6 6-2; R Federer (Swit) bt J Reister (Ger) 6-4 6-0 6-4; S Wawrinka (Swit) bt F Fognini (It) 6-3 6-4 6-1; T Berdych (Cz Rep) bt J Isner (US) 6-2 6-2 6-1; J-W Tsonga (Fr) bt T De Bakker (Neth) 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 6-4; R Soderling (Swe) bt A Montanes (Sp) 6-4 7-5 2-6 6-3; M Cilic (Croa) bt L Mayer (Arg) 6-4 3-6 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 6-4. Second round: D Ferrer (Sp) bt X Malisse (Bel) 6-2 6-2 2-0 ret; V Hanescu (Rom) bt Y Schukin (Kaz) 6-3 6-4 6-2; R Nadal (Sp) bt H Zeballos (Arg) 6-2 6-2 6-3; O Dolgopolov Jr (Ukr) bt F Gonzalez (Chile) 6-3 6-4 6-3; N Almagro (Sp) bt S Darcis (Bel) 6-3 6-0 7-5; N Djokovic (Serb) bt K Nishikori (Japan) 6-1 6-4 6-4; J Melzer (Aut) bt N Mahut (Fr) 6-1 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4; L Hewitt (Aus) bt D Istomin (Uzb) 1-6 6-3 6-4 2-6 6-2; T Bellucci (Br) bt P Andujar (Sp) 1-6 6-3 2-6 6-4 6-2; P Kohlschreiber (Ger) bt A Seppi (It) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5; R Ginepri (US) bt P Starace (It) 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-3; F Verdasco (Sp) bt F Serra (Fr) 6-2 6-2 0-6 6-4; J C Ferrero (Sp) bt P Riba (Sp) 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (13-15) 6-2 6-2; I Ljubicic (Croa) bt M Fish (US) 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 4-6 6-2 10-8.
Women's singles: Third round: V Williams (US) bt D Cibulkova (Slovak) 6-3 6-4; C Wozniacki (Den) bt A Dulgheru (Rom) 6-3 6-4, (14) Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Polona Hercog (Slo) 6-3 6-0; C Scheepers (SA) bt A Amanmuradova (Uzb) 6-3 6-3; F Schiavone (It) bt N Li (Chin) 6-4 6-2; E Dementieva (Rus) bt A Wozniak (Can) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-4; M Kirilenko (Rus) bt S Kuznetsova (Rus) 6-3 2-6 6-4. Second round: S Williams (US) bt J Goerges (Ger) 6-1 6-1; M Sharapova (Rus) bt K Flipkens (Bel) 6-3 6-3; A Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) bt J Craybas (US) 6-4 6-1; A Pivovarova (Rus) bt J Zheng (Chin) 6-4 6-3; M Bartoli (Fr) bt O Sanchez (Fr) 7-5 6-2; J Henin (Bel) bt K Zakopalova (Cz Rep) 6-3 6-3; D Hantuchova (Slovak) bt O Govortsova (Bela) 7-5 6-3; Y Wickmayer (Bel) bt S Bammer (Aut) 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 7-5; S Stosur (Aus) bt R De Los Rios (Par) 4-6 6-1 6-0.
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