Murray’s fight with form continues against old foe

Day seven at Roland Garros sees Andy Murray square up with Juan Martin Del Potro and these two have plenty of previous, both on and off the court.

After a chaotic first five days of tennis in Paris, Friday saw an element of normality restored to the tournament as, for once, those players who were expected to win, did so.

That was the case in both the men’s and women’s draws.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem all advanced at the expense of Nikoloz Basilashvili, Diego Schwartzman and Steve Johnson.

Of the three victories, it was Djokovic’s that was the most controversial. He involved himself in an ugly argument with the umpire after being deducted a serve for taking too much time between points and was then warned for motioning to hit at a ball at the umpire afterwards.

Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova also all progressed to the last 16. In the absence of her sister, Serena, Venus has been mightily impressive so far this week – she is yet to drop a set.

Looking ahead to day seven, Murray’s meeting with Del Potro will be the feature fixture. The Briton and the Argentine have met nine times with the former winning on six occasions.

There is always a bit of spice to this one. Back in 2008, Murray and Del Potro were involved in a heated on-court incident. Murray saw red at the Rome Masters after Del Potro made a jibe about his mother Judy during a change-over-trash-talking episode.

Ahead of Saturday’s match, Murray made it clear that he felt his game was in good enough order to beat Del Potro however his patchy form so far at Roland Garros suggests otherwise. Mind games? It seems so.

“I definitely feel like I’m capable of winning that match,” the world number one said on Thursday after edging Martin Klizan with a performance that lacked fluency and rhythm.

“I’m playing way better than I was two weeks ago, and [Thursday’s] match will have done me a lot of good, because physically I pulled up well and felt good, so I will gain a lot of confidence from that. And I also hit a lot of balls out there, more than the first-round match.

“It seems like everyone thinks I didn’t play particularly well [on Thursday], but there was some good stuff against [Klizan].

“It’s not easy to play against someone like him. So hopefully I will keep improving in the next one.”

Stan Warinka and Kei Nishikori will also have the opportunity to progress to the last 16 on Saturday. The Swiss star plays the temperamental Fabio Fognini
while the Japanese prodigy locks horns with Chung Hyeon.

In the women’s draw on Saturday, Karolina Pliskova, the world number three, will do battle with Carina Witthöft. It’s tough to see anything but a win for Pliskova in this one.

Carolina Wozniacki’s interrupted match with Cici Bellis will also be worth keeping close tabs on. The Dane is about to have her set advantage cancelled out and the third stanza promises to be an entertaining affair.

Simonal Halep also plays Daria Kasatkina in what will be a stern test of the Romanian’s game.

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