Andy Murray enjoys timely straight-sets win to move into round four

Andy Murray enjoys timely straight-sets win to move into round four

Andy Murray got the quick match he craved as he eased past Ivo Karlovic and into the fourth round of the French Open.

After expending considerable physical, emotional and mental energy battling from behind to beat Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue in five sets in his first two matches, Murray knew he could not afford another epic.

The Scot was happy to be facing 6ft 11in Karlovic because it meant short rallies, and that was exactly how it panned out. Of the 174 points they played, only 22 comprised more than four shots.

Murray made the perfect start, winning the first five games, and needed only an hour and 56 minutes to complete a 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7/3) victory.

The world number two, who could well face the second tallest man on the tour in John Isner next, said: "Especially at the end it was very close.

"I got off to a quick start, and against someone like Ivo that's important. But he fought right to the end and I was glad to win the tie-break.

"The return has normally been the strongest part of my game, but even still against him it's not always up to you. I tried to stay patient and take care of my own service games."

The most uncomfortable part of Murray's afternoon came when interviewer Fabrice Santoro persuaded him to say in French what he would be ordering for dinner. The answer: filet du boeuf avec maison frites et salade verte (steak and chips with a green salad).

Gaston Gaudio in 2004 is the only player in the Open era to have won the French Open having player two five-setters in his opening two matches.

Murray had spent more than seven hours on court in the first two rounds, but he showed no ill effects as he began superbly against Karlovic.

It is not often the giant Croatian loses the first three points of a match on his own serve, or that he is lobbed to concede a break.

Murray has an exceptional record against tall players, including six wins from six previous matches against Karlovic.

Murray's strength off the return and superb hand skills enabled him to place the ball in the most awkward spots for Karlovic.

The 37-year-old was trying to become the oldest man to reach the fourth round in Paris since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1972.

But he looked to be feeling the effects of his own five-setter in the second round, where he eventually edged young Australian Jordan Thompson 12-10 in the decider.

Karlovic has only lost four sets to love in his career and he avoided that fate here by finally holding serve at the third attempt.

But Murray served out the set and then broke again at the start of the second, Karlovic slamming his racket disconsolately to the ground after missing a volley.

He at least was able to hold serve now, but he could make no more than a slight impression on Murray's.

The 29-year-old mysteriously lost his way in the second set against Bourgue, having looked completely in control, but he made sure he stayed pumped up this time, roaring as he recovered from 0-30 to hold for 5-3.

The third set was tighter, with Murray unable to take either of the only two break points in the fifth game.

But he made a perfect start to the tie-break with a dinked backhand pass that left Karlovic motionless at the net, and never looked in danger after that.

The statistics made happy reading for Murray, who did not face a break point, made 75 per cent of his first serves, hit 34 winners and made only four unforced errors.

Karlovic had hit 72 aces in his first two matches, but managed just 14 here and left the court knowing he had been thoroughly outplayed.

More in this Section

Anthony Daly: Are referees and the GAA trying to destroy our game or what?Anthony Daly: Are referees and the GAA trying to destroy our game or what?

Hakim Ziyech signs five-year Chelsea deal ahead of summer switchHakim Ziyech signs five-year Chelsea deal ahead of summer switch

Daniel Storey: Mourinho’s mixed messages don’t inspire confidenceDaniel Storey: Mourinho’s mixed messages don’t inspire confidence

Cork Leagues: Goals help Sars make it two wins from twoCork Leagues: Goals help Sars make it two wins from two


Lifestyle

Another episode, another incredible Cork woman. The tale of Mother Jones, the famous union organiser and activist against child labour in 19th century America.Five things for the week ahead: RTÉ showcase another incredible Cork woman

Holger Smyth part-owns and runs Inanna Rare Books, which has recently opened a ‘rare book lounge’ at the former Hawthorn creamery near Drimoleague, Co Cork.We sell books: Cream of the book crop sold from former co-op

Milton Jones talks hecklers, Hawaiian shirts and the world’s favourite clever Irishman with Richard FitzpatrickMilton Jones: When one line will do just fine

After almost 70 years of trying the search goes on, but so far nothing has been found.Sky Matters: Whether we are alone in the Universe has exercised many great minds

More From The Irish Examiner