Andy Murray’s improving form should see him through what will be the toughest match of his clay court season when he meets Juan Martin del Potro in the third round of the French Open.
I'm playing way better than I was two weeks ago, and today's match will have done me a lot of good, because physically I pulled up well and felt good, so I will gain a lot of confidence from that. And I also hit a lot of balls out there, more than the first-round match. Andy Murray
The world number one required three hours and 35-minutes to get past Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-7(3) 6-2 6-2 7-6(3).
It was an up-and-down performance from the world number one but once he had contained the power of his opponent’s game, he went from strength to strength and, despite a final flurry from Klizan in the fourth, reached the next round as expected.
Speaking after his victory and looking ahead to his meeting with the big Argentine, he said: “I definitely feel like I’m capable of winning that match.
“I’m playing way better than I was two weeks ago, and today’s match will have done me a lot of good, because physically I pulled up well and felt good, so I will gain a lot of confidence from that. And I also hit a lot of balls out there, more than the first-round match.
“It seems like everyone thinks I didn’t play particularly well today, but there was some good stuff against a tough opponent. It’s not easy to play against someone like him. So hopefully I will keep improving in the next one.”
Klizan has had some stand-out wins in the past but came into the match nursing a calf injury that almost forced him to miss the tournament.
Meanwhile Kyle Edmund reached the third round for the first time in his career with another impressive performance while keeping up his record of not dropping a set.
He beat Argentina’s Renzo Olivo who ousted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening round, 7-5 6-3 6-1 as he continues to show great improvement in temperament and concentration and admits he has had to work hard to try and make the top ten of the rankings.
“It doesn’t just happen overnight to get top 10. It has to come from winning matches and beating good players. So I know that I’m not going to get too ahead of myself. I have to keep going about my process and I want to get to the top of the game one day. I know what needs to be done.”
The Yorkshireman next takes on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who knocked out Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.
Edmund said: “It was a good match today. It felt good. I felt in control of my game. I did what I wanted to do for the most part of the match.
“He had a good win in the last round and maybe because he’s had to play a few days in a row he might have been a bit tired, but that’s not my problem.
“I have got to go and do my job. Play the person that’s in front of me. And he beat a good player in Tsonga, so I knew I had to be on it.
“And it went really well today under hot conditions, so the ball was really flying about. But I think it really suited me.”
Juan Martin Del Potro again showed himself to be one of tennis’ great sportsmen when he comforted his distraught second-round opponent Nicolas Almagro who was forced to retire with a knee injury with the match poised at one set all and 1-all in the third.
Del Potro squatted down next to Almagro and put a consoling hand on the Spaniard’s chest while he was attended to by doctor and physio and then walked back with him to his chair where he continued, with an arm round his shoulder, to comfort the Spaniard.
He said: “I don’t feel good after this sad situation. I wish a good recovery to Nico. Hopefully he can feel better very, very soon, because he’s a great player and we love to have him on tour.
“And of course it’s not easy for me when you have a friend on the other side of the court showing an injury or crying. It was really a bad moment for both of us.
“I tried to find good words for that moment. I said to him, ‘Try to be calm’. Try to think about his family, his baby. And sometimes the heart is first then the tennis match or the tennis life. And I think he has everything to fix this problem and come back on tour stronger.”
DelPo himself required treatment for a groin problem and hopes to be fit to face Murray on Saturday.
The former US Open champion said: “I felt something in my groin in the middle of the first set. And then I won that set and then tried to take time for the anti-inflammatories to have an effect on my body.
“I have one day and a half to feel better. It’s an old problem for me, so my physio knows how to treat that. Hopefully I can be in good shape.”