Faces Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals – H2H: Murray leads 7-3
PARIS, FRANCE – Andy Murray followed up his win over big-serving Ivo Karlovic with a straight sets win over another big-server in John Isner, setting up a clash with home-crowd favourite Richard Gasquet.
Another efficient match was needed for Murray, who of course had to battle over two tense five-setters in his opening rounds, and this was another good performance from the Brit, who had the momentum after snatching a tough tie-break having to save three set points on the way to clinching the lead.
The rain delay may have actually come out in Isner’s favour initially, as the level of muttering and uttering of ancient Celtic oaths ramped up a gear, especially as the American held firm in one of the longest games of the match.
Yet as easily as it looked as though Isner would have the upper hand, Murray edged the second set with a late break and it started to look like a very defeated Isner out on court. Murray broke him mid-way through the third set, and he looked to be driving for that all important double break cushion, but once more the American held firm, even bringing up break point chances of his own.
He just couldn’t find his way though, bowing out in straight sets just shy of two and three-quarter-hours, but what was more important was getting it done before the last, and final rain delay left two matches unfinished.
As reported by BBC Sport, Murray said: “It was a very important tie-break to win. I got lucky on his first set point when I guessed right on a short forehand.”
Andy Murray  v Richard Gasquet  – H2H: Murray leads 7-3
One of the potential contenders of the tournament came spectacularly unstuck at the hands of a man for whom 13 was no longer an unlucky number. Gasquet was the last Frenchman standing after the tearful retirement of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while he was leading in his third round encounter. Sometimes the passionate French crowd have been more of a hindrance than a help to the sensitive Frenchman with the artistic single handed backhand.
Not today though, as he took the battle to Nishikori, of whom much was expected. Yet the Japanese player seemed completely unable to get a read on Gasquet’s shots for much of the time going two sets down.
There was still potentially cause for concern – after all it would not be the first time for Gasquet to fold under the pressure of being two sets up, but not this time. He swiftly took control once more in the fourth set after Nishikori started to mount his fightback, flinging himself to the clay as he booked a place in the quarter-finals for the first time in 13 attempts at his home Slam.
The French might dare to hope, and the pressure on those slender shoulders may be considerable as he looks to snap a five-match losing streak against the Brit. It must also surely rankle that Murray has beaten him twice on clay at Roland Garros.
If that backhand is firing as it was today, Murray will have to be pin-sharp on his movement but he could try and go after Gasquet’s weaker forehand side. Couple that with Gasquet’s tendency to stand so far back, he might just as well be in the court next door, and we can expect to see a match of all-court prowess.
Before Murray fans rejoice too much in the loss of Nishikori in Murray’s half – for once Gasquet seems to be embracing the crowd’s passion, rather than fearing it – this could be the start of another ‘Murray-coaster’ as his fans term it.
Prediction: Murray in four sets.
Roland Garros Round-Up – The other key results today
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka  beat Viktor Troicki  7-6(5) 6-7(7) 6-3 6-2
The biggest shock of the day was potential dark horse Milos Raonic crashing out in straight sets. Unseeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas defeated him 6-2 6-4 6-4
The schedule recommences on Monday at 11am (10am BST).
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