Wawrinka's progress is a menace to Murray

He has some way to go before he will overtake his country's No 1 player, but Stanislas Wawrinka is making decent progress up the world rankings. Andy Murray's opponent in today's second round of the Rome Masters climbed this week to No 24, his highest ever placing.

Playing second fiddle to Roger Federer in your homeland might unnerve some lesser mortals, but it has helped Wawrinka to reach the game's higher ranks almost unnoticed. In January the 23-year-old Swiss reached the final in Doha, where he was beaten in three sets by Murray, in March he won four matches in Indian Wells before losing to Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, and in Barcelona last week he made the semi-finals, with David Nalbandian among his victims.

"He's a strong guy, hits the ball hard on both wings and serves well," Murray said. "He's had good results on clay, but he's played well on most surfaces other than grass."

Murray, who also beat Wawrinka on his way to the Marseilles title in February, considers the Swiss one of his best friends on tour (they had talked about playing doubles together this week), which is more than can be said for his previous opponent. Murray's first-round victory late on Monday was an acrimonious affair in which the Scot fumed over comments he said Juan Martin del Potro had made during the second set about his mother, Judy, who was watching in the stand. Del Potro, who had previously angered Murray by failing to apologise for hitting a ball straight at him, retired after the recurrence of a back injury when trailing 5-7, 6-4, 1-0.

Although he did not reveal what Del Potro had said, Murray said he had told the Argentinian to "watch his mouth". He added: "My mother is one of the nicest ladies you're ever going to meet. He can say whatever he wants about me, but when you start talking about someone's family I think it's natural not to take it too well."

Having been warned for swearing, which he denied, Murray was unhappy that Fergus Murphy, the umpire, took no action against Del Potro. "I said: 'You warned me for not even swearing at the start of the match, but this guy is talking about my family and you're not going to do anything about that?' He said: 'Wait until after the match.' I think it merited a warning."

Murray was well on top by the time Del Potro retired and admitted the row had fired him up. "I wanted to win so much more after that," he said.

Today's winner will face either Rafael Nadal or Juan Carlos Ferrero, who beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 yesterday. Federer gained a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Guillermo Canas, who beat him in successive Masters Series tournaments last year, while Andy Roddick began his European campaign with a 6-1, 6-4 win over his fellow American, Mardy Fish.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn