Magnificent Murray sends old foe del Potro packing

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Top seed Andy Murray sailed into the fourth round of the French Open with a straight-sets victory over old foe Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.

Murray fought back to win a thrilling first set on Court Philippe Chatrier and never looked back, triumphing 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 6-0 to move into the last 16.

The world number one beat the Argentinian in an epic Olympic final last year before Del Potro won a marathon Davis Cup five-setter, but Murray produced his best match of the tournament to get the job done in emphatic fashion.

Murray mixed his game up expertly, enjoying success with cute drop shots and making a tiring Del Potro run far more than he wanted to on a gloomy day in Paris to set up a meeting with John Isner or Karen Khachanov.

Powerhouse Del Potro, playing in the French Open for the first time since 2012, faded after looking ominous in the opening set and the world number 30 was bundled out in two hours and 53 minutes.

Murray made a confident start, executing two canny drop shots to perfection in a comfortable hold, but Del Potro was a break up at 2-1 when the Briton got an attempted passing shot horribly wrong.

Del Potro, sporting a dazzling pair of luminous yellow socks, unleashed a barrage of brutal forehands and saved two break points before blasting down an ace to take a 5-3 lead in a game in which a deft Murray drop shot had the purists purring.

A blistering cross-court forehand winner gave the 2009 US Open champion a first set point, yet Murray held and conjured up an exquisite lob prior to saving another set point as he broke back to level at 5-5.

It was Murray who had two set points in a pulsating tie-break courtesy of another delightful drop shot, but although Del Potro saved them and had another set point of his own, he hung his head while slumped on the net after drilling a forehand just wide to go a set down.

Del Potro was convinced the ball had clipped the line - though replays suggested otherwise - and his mood did not improve when he was broken in the first game of the second set before saving two break points in his next service game.

Last year's Roland Garros runner-up was on the prowl, gesturing and shouting in the direction of his box despite being on top, with Del Potro sending a between-the-legs shot wide after Murray had him lumbering to the back of the court.

Del Potro had the trainer and doctor out but did not receive treatment and broke back with the crowd firmly on his side after Murray netted a forehand having double-faulted when serving for the set.

Yet Murray toyed with Del Potro in a perfectly constructed point to go a break up again and this time made no mistake in opening up a two-set advantage.

An errant forehand from the South American gave Murray another break in the first game of the third set and had no answer as the inspired favourite raced to victory in style before the forecast rain arrived.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Murray [1] bt del Potro [29] 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 6-0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Murray - 44/28
Del Potro - 35/43

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Murray - 5/3
Del Potro - 6/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Murray - 6/17
Del Potro - 2/9

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Murray - 57
Del Potro - 61

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Murray - 69/61
Del Potro - 65/33

TOTAL POINTS
Murray - 118
Del Potro - 92