'True great' Murray moves up the gears

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-05 07:50

Top seed displaying mark of champion, says three-time Paris winner Wilander

PARIS - The magic that makes a Grand Slam champion is coming together for Britain's Andy Murray at just the right time, according to former world No 1 Mats Wilander.

Murray swept aside Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the French Open third round on Saturday, and Wilander saw something of a gear change in the top seed, who had been struggling recently.

"I think it is coming," the Swede, 52, told Reuters at Roland Garros. "It is coming at the right time for us, and at the right time for him.

'True great' Murray moves up the gears

"Andy is the sort of guy who thrives on the challenge of man-to-man, he likes to feel his way.

"It is the fight when he is level that he loves, and we saw that today, how he really upped his game in that tiebreak.

"I mean he didn't really hit any normal shots in the tiebreak, a couple of dropshots, some serve-and-volleying, but that is what the greats are like.

"It is a feeling, a sense for knowing what to do. I mean sometimes it means you hit the dumbest shots ever, but that instinct is what makes the greats, and we saw that in Andy today."

With Rafa Nadal seemingly in impenetrable form, marching towards a 10th French Open title, Murray's upturn in fortunes may not be enough to win the crown in Paris, but it all bodes well for Wimbledon, Wilander said.

"It is good for what comes next, it is all positive, only positive. He now has great momentum going.

"Just the way he is playing is positive. We saw in the last round against Martin Klizan he lost the first set and so changed something and won.

"Today he won that tight set and then his opponent basically gave the match to him."

Demoralized by losing the opener on a disputed line call, Del Potro stood at the net, bent at the waist, his head resting on the netcord. There the Argentine stayed like that until the umpire called time about three minutes later.

"You can't do that," said Wilander, a three-time winner at Roland Garros in the 1980s. "He basically handed him the match.

"But still, Murray fought well in the second. It often isn't how you are hitting the ball, it is the quality of your fight. And then in the third he thought, 'OK, you try to stay with me now, I am world No 1, you come with me."

Before the French Open, Briton Murray had lost seven of his 23 tour matches in 2017 - hardly the form of the world's top-ranked player.

However, Wilander said: "It happens to the best. "They can have off-days, it just happens."

Big numbers

30 minutes

was all it took for Simona Halep to wrap up the first set in her 6-0, 7-5 win over Daria Kasatkina.

100 wins

racked up on clay by big-serving Marin Cilic after the Croat demolished an ailing Feliciano Lopez.


Frosty in French camp

France have three women into the last 16 for the first time in 23 years, but not all is rosy in the French camp. Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia, due to meet in the next round, are barely on speaking terms after a bitter feud. "I think she may have a grudge against us, so she's not ready to talk with me," said Cornet. Garcia fell out with her teammates after severing her successful doubles relationship with compatriot Kiki Mladenovic, before pulling out of Fed Cup duty in April.

Shoddy service

Polish ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska crashed out of the third round without winning a single service game against Alize Cornet. The former Wimbledon finalist was broken seven times out of seven in a 6-2, 6-1 loss.

Boys are back in town

Four former Roland Garros boys' singles champions were in action on Saturday-with Richard Gasquet (2002), Stan Wawrinka (2003), Gael Monfils (2004) and Marin Cilic (2005) all battling to reach the last 16 of the men's draw.

Agece France-Presse

(China Daily 06/05/2017 page23)

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