Numbers add up for Murray as he plots his path to semis
Saturday 28 May 2011
When you look at Andy Murray's quarter of the draw here at the French Open you would have thought he might have trouble keeping a smile off his face.
Having beaten players ranked No 124 and No 126 in his first two matches, Murray today faces Germany's Michael Berrer (No 95), the winner to meet Viktor Troicki (No 15) or Alexandr Dolgopolov (No 22) in the fourth round. The highest-ranked opponent the 24-year-old Scot could face in the quarter-finals is Juan Ignacio Chela (No 34). He is seeded to meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
Murray has indeed been a relaxed figure around Roland Garros this week, but the world No 4 admits that "on the court I can still get better about how I handle things". Despite winning his opening two matches in straight sets, Murray was in a tetchy mood in both, having been frustrated firstly by Eric Prodon's determination to avoid lengthy rallies and then by the testing windy conditions against Simone Bolelli.
Asked about his on-court demeanour, Murray said: "Sometimes it's been very good, sometimes not so good. It's something I definitely need to improve. In the Prodon match there was no real need to get frustrated, but I just wanted to get off the court because I knew he was struggling a little bit. I was rushing, getting a little bit annoyed with myself, when I didn't need to."
Against Bolelli, Murray said he felt more comfortable when he was trailing than when he was leading. "I just want to get that mentality into a whole match and not just when I'm down," he said. "I don't know if it was the conditions, but I just felt very uncomfortable and not at ease at all on the court."
Berrer, a 6ft 4in left-hander who has never played Murray, is through to the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time in his career. The 30-year-old from Stuttgart beat Milos Raonic (world No 27) and Arnaud Clement (No 158) in the first two rounds.
The Scot and the German will play the second match today on Court Suzanne Lenglen, which should ensure Murray is finished in time to watch the Champions League final, in which he will be supporting Manchester United. "A lot of my best friends are Barcelona fans and they go on the whole day about them being the best team ever, the greatest side in the world," Murray said. "It just annoys me. I would like to see Man United win anyway, but I would like it if my friends were just a bit more humble about it."
Yesterday's eagerly anticipated meeting between Novak Djokovic, who is unbeaten this year, and Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, did not start until after 7.30pm. Because of the length of earlier matches on Court Philippe Chatrier it was switched to the second stadium, Court Suzanne Lenglen, to the anger of hundreds of spectators, who were eventually admitted after making noisy protests outside.
The commotion appeared to distract Djokovic, who won the first set 6-3 but lost his way in the second, which Del Potro took 6-3. With the light fading, play was then halted. The match will resume today.
Roger Federer wasted no time reaching the fourth round, beating Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. He will now face his fellow Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka, who came back from two sets down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
For the first time at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era the top two women's seeds have failed to make the last 16. Following Kim Clijsters' exit, Caroline Wozniacki, the world No 1, suffered a humiliating 6-1, 6-3 defeat to Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.
Wozniacki, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title, is forever being asked whether she deserves to top the rankings but insisted she did not feel any extra pressure. "The only one I feel pressure from is myself to go and give my all for every match," she said. "I love winning. I don't like losing. Sometimes it's like this in the game and you can't do anything. Right now I can't do anything about the loss other than just get back on the practice court and improve and be better for next time."
The Dane will top the world rankings before Wimbledon unless Vera Zvonareva, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Anastasia Rodionova, wins here and at Eastbourne.
Today's Best Action
Rafael Nadal v Antonio Veic
Nadal, far from secure in his first two matches, faces a 23-year-old Croatian playing only his second Grand Slam event. Veic (world No 227) beat Nikolay Davydenko in the last round.
Fernando Verdasco v Ivan Ljubicic
Ljubicic (world No 37) has won his past two matches against Verdasco (No 20), who has had a moderate clay-court season. Winner to face Nadal or Veic next.
Maria Sharapova v Yung-Jan Chan
Sharapova nearly lost to the unheralded Caroline Garcia in the last round. Chan (world No 129), 21, from Chinese Taipei, had never gone beyond the French first round until this week.
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