The French Open continued on Thursday, with the second round drawing to a close with a number of exciting matches.
Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund both played meaning that there was plenty of interest for the Brits, after Aljaz Bedene’s late loss on Wednesday evening. A number of the top seeds in the women’s singles were also in action, including second seed Karolína Plíšková and third seed Simona Halep.
Here, we round-up all the action from the fifth day of the second Grand Slam of the season.
We also preview Friday’s action.
Hero of day five
Few players in the sport have suffered such dreadful luck with injuries as Juan Martin del Potro. A series of deliberating wrist injuries stymied his progress after he became the fifth-youngest man to win the US Open in the Open Era in 2009, with the Argentine playing at Roland-Garros for the first time in five years because of his fitness woes.
So, the 28-year-old knew exactly how Nicolas Almagro was feeling when the Spaniard fell in a heap on the clay midway through their fiercely contested second round match, holding his knee and in floods of tears. He also knew exactly how to react. Vaulting the net, Del Potro helped Almagro back to his bench before packing his bag for him, and sitting with him for several minutes before he departed from the court to a standing ovation.
“I told him to try to be calm,” Del Potro revealed after the match. “And I told him to think about his family, his baby. And sometimes the heart is first than the tennis match or the tennis life.” A hero on the court as well as off it. Del Potro will play Andy Murray for a place in the fourth round.
Upset of the day
The ATP have been busy pushing their crop of Next Generation stars for a while now, and this year there will even be a new end-of-season tournament that features the world’s top 21-and-under singles players of the ATP World Tour season, to be hosted in Milan.
Karen Khachanov is one of those stars, a 21-year-old Russian talent who currently sits sixth in the Next Generation standings. But, a win over Thomaz Bellucci in the first round of last year’s US Open aside, the current World No 38 was still waiting for his breakthrough Slam victory. That victory came today.
Khachanov hadn’t been given much of a chance against the experienced 13th-seed Tomáš Berdych, a Wimbledon finalist back in 2010 and a Roland Garros semi-finalist in the same year. Not only did Khachanov beat him, but he beat him comfortably, sealing progression to the third round with an easy 7-5 6-4 6-4 win.
Performance of the day
Kei Nishikori for his complete dismantling of Jeremy Chardy in his incredibly impressive 6-3 6-0 7-6(5) win, during which he won a remarkable 12 games in a row.
Things became a little bit more difficult in the third set for Nishikori, a Roland Garros quarter-finalist in 2015 who hasn’t always looked particularly at home on clay. He appeared to suffer a strain of some sort and had to have his trainer called to court and his chest massaged early in the third set, but he won a subsequent tiebreaker to get it done in three.
“Today was very good match, especially winning 12 games in a row,” he said afterwards. “I think I was feeling very confident, so I was dictating a lot with my backhand and forehand.”
Andy Murray progressed into the third round of this year’s French Open with a gruelling victory over the powerful left-hander Martin Kližan, but British number two Kyle Edmund booked his spot in the next round in rather more stylish fashion.
Edmund blasted his way past Argentina's Renzo Olivo — who knocked out the seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the previous round — with a mightily impressive 7-5 6-3 6-1 win, and is still yet to drop a set at Roland-Garros this year.
This is now the 22-year-old’s best ever run in Paris, and victory in the next round against the experienced South African Kevin Anderson would match his best ever run at a Slam — when he defeated Richard Gasquet and John Isner before losing to Novak Djokovic at last year’s US Open.
Quote of the day
A lot has been said about the Margaret Court controversy and the vast majority of players have offered their hot takes in their respective press conferences, but John Isner’s considered and eloquent take on the topic really stood out.
"I just wish [Court] wouldn't have been so outspoken about it. The fact that she believes in traditional marriage is good on her, but she was a little bit too outspoken about it even when she wasn’t really — she keeps on harping on it. So it's brought a lot of negative attention to her and brought a lot of negative attention to the WTA as well.
"So I think she probably should have just kept it to herself, but I do respect her opinion a lot. As for the name change on the court, we'll see what happens. A lot of times when stuff like this gets momentum it, could happen. Would I be in favour of that? I'm sort of indifferent."
Meanwhile, Andy Murray finishes as runner-up for muttering this to himself shortly after taking the second set in his tricky match against Klizan:
"About f***ing time, f***ing hell, f***ing COME ON.”
Stat of the day
2.8: After 45 minutes of action on Court Philippe Chatrier, the average rally length in the match between Ekaterina Alexandrova and eventual winner, and second seed, Karolína Plíšková. Not one for the purists.
Friday’s order of play
Court Philippe Chatrier (play starts at 10am UK time)
4-Garbine Muguruza (Spain) v 27-Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan)
Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) v 4-Rafael Nadal (Spain)
Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) v 2-Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
10-Venus Williams (United States) v Elise Mertens (Belgium)
Court Suzanne Lenglen
Horacio Zeballos (Argentina) v 10-David Goffin (Belgium)
Shelby Rogers (United States) v 13-Kristina Mladenovic (France)
16-Lucas Pouille (France) v 19-Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Spain)
11-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) v Catherine Bellis (United States)
20-Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain) v 11-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
6-Dominic Thiem (Austria) v 25-Steve Johnson (United States)
32-Shuai Zhang (China) vs 8-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia)
30-Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) v Ons Jabeur (Tunisia)
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