Andy Murray was back on the practice court here yesterday and will decide this morning whether he is fit enough to play his French Open fourth-round match today against Serbia's Viktor Troicki. A scan on the ankle injury Murray suffered on the way to victory over Michael Berrer on Saturday did not reveal any serious problems, but he was taking no chances last night. The 24-year-old Scot went for a light hit late in the day and was applying plenty of ice to his right ankle, which he said remained sore.
Murray turned the ankle early in the second set against Berrer and had to take a medical time-out in order to have it strapped. The world No 4's movement was clearly restricted thereafter, though he completed a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory with something to spare. Since then he has consulted the tournament doctor and has been regularly icing the ankle to keep the inflammation down.
Twenty-four hours after suffering the injury Murray was optimistic about his chances of starting today's match. However, even if he decides to play he is unlikely to know how seriously the problem will affect him until he takes the court.
On Saturday, Murray was fortunate that Berrer felt sorry for his stricken opponent – "I should have hurt him when he was down," the German said after failing to take advantage of the Scot's problems – but Troicki will not show similar compassion.
"Obviously, if he's injured and cannot run, I'm going to take advantage of that," Troicki said. "I want to win my match. He would do the same if I had the same problem. We are all professionals, so we try to win. Sometimes it's ugly, but that's our job."
Murray may need to show the same determination that was evident in his victory over Berrer. The Scot said: "It's quite easy when something like that happens to feel sorry for yourself and think, 'Oh, I can't believe this has happened in a match that I was in pretty decent control of at the time'. I just wanted to make sure that I gave it the best I could. You focus more on what you can do rather than what you can't. I found a way to win the match."
Troicki, nevertheless, has had his own physical problems, having gone down with food poisoning four days ago. The 25-year-old world No 15, who is currently at a career-high position in the rankings, recovered sufficiently to win his third-round encounter with Alexandr Dolgopolov on Saturday but retired after only three games of his later doubles match.
It would be desperately bad luck for Murray if the ankle injury ended his run. The Scot has been in the best clay-court form of his life and the draw offers him an outstanding chance of reaching the semi-finals here for the first time. Murray or Troicki will meet either Juan Ignacio Chela (world No 34) or Alejandro Falla (No 120) in the quarter-finals, with Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, likely to await in the semi-finals.
Murray has won all three of his previous meetings with Troicki without dropping a set. "The last time we played was two years ago," Troicki said. "Since then, I think I've improved a lot. We never played on clay and I think that is Murray's weakest surface. If I play well I think I have a chance."
Troicki, who is 6ft 4in tall and has a big game, was ranked No 41 in the world 12 months ago. "He's definitely playing better than he was in previous years," Murray said. "He's very solid from both sides and has a big first serve. He moves very well. He's a very, very consistent player and doesn't make too many mistakes."
The Serb should have no trouble handling the occasion, even though this is his first appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. He faced the ultimate high-pressure match in December, when he played the deciding singles rubber in his country's historic Davis Cup final victory over France in his home city of Belgrade.
Troicki more than met the challenge, beating Michael Llodra – then ranked seven places higher than him at No 23 in the world – in straight sets.
Just as his Davis Cup colleague, Novak Djokovic, has gone from strength to strength since Serbia's triumph, so Troicki has thrived on the experience. "It definitely gave me a lot of confidence," he said. "Since the Davis Cup I believe in myself even more, and I think other players are also looking at me differently. That's given me a big boost."
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