Faces John Isner in the fourth round – H2H: Murray leads 5-0
PARIS, FRANCE – After putting everyone (and himself) through the five-set wringer, Andy Murray booked his place in the fourth round of Roland Garros with a straight sets win in a little under two hours.
Even given how tricky Karlovic can be, it must have come as a welcome relief to face the big serving Croatian after two very tricky matches that had been alarmingly hard work for the Brit. He admitted that he had lost is focus in his second round match against French wild-card Mathias Bourgue, and we think we can all agree the first couple of rounds have been quite stressful.
There was no such issues certainly in the first set, ripping through it in a matter of minutes as Karlovic, who came through a 12-10 decider in his second round, looked a little stiff and sluggish to move. Indeed the second and third sets started to be more competitive as Karlovic seemed to warm up, with danger for Murray serving from behind and twice serving to stay in the set.
It took just two mini-breaks in the third set tie-break to set the scene for another bid-serving encounter, with John Isner, who came back from a break down in the fifth set to beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6(7) 4-6 2-6 6-4 6-2.
Andy Murray  v John Isner – H2H: Murray leads 5-0
Isner has taken just three sets off Murray in their past five encounters, although their matches have always been quite tight, not surprisingly. Obviously we can expect fairly short points and once again Murray’s returning will need to be on point to avoid being the second Brit to be ousted by Isner.
The American hit his own milestone this week with his 300th career win in the second round when he put paid to Kyle Edmund’s campaign as he seeks to regain a little confidence after having had to pull out of the ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome with a knee injury.
Obviously his serve is his big weapon and with a one-two punch combo with his forehand, and he will come forward maybe not to always volley but certainly to finish off the point. His fitness has improved but he is still vulnerable if Murray chooses to yank him all around the court. However with now 13 sets of tennis in his own legs, will the Brit prefer to take the same approach as with Karlovic and look to conserve as much energy as possible to take him through to the second week?
Isner has only taken one set off him during a Slam (US Open quarter-final) and hopefully Murray has gotten over his mental walks off the map to be able to be every bit as clinical as he was with Karlovic, as the rest of his path is no easier. Potentially Kei Nishikori in the quarter-final, defending champion Stan Wawrinka in the semi-final and now with the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal due to a left wrist injury – we could be looking at a third straight fight between the World Nos. 1 and 2.
Yet one thing at a time – Murray needs to be every bit as focussed as he was on Friday to keep his unbeaten record against the big serving American intact.
Play resumes on Saturday at 11am (10am BST).
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