World number one Andy Murray battled past the dangerous Juan Martin del Potro, 7-6(8), 7-5, 6-0, to reach the fourth round of Roland Garros for the eighth time in his career. Murray will face either John Isner or Karen Khachanov for a place in the quarterfinals.
The one hour and twenty-three minute opening set was crucial in Murray's victory. Del Potro served for the set and had multiple set points but the world number one stepped up when he needed to in the important moments to steal the tiebreak in what was a brutal contest. The match looked to be quickly slipping away from the Argentine as Murray broke in the opening game but the world number thirty battled back from the brink. The Brit quickly stamped out any signs of a comeback as he battled to take the second set. Murray showed why he is the world number one as he cruised through the third set, sealing the win in his best match of the year to secure a place in the second week of the French Open.
Crucial opening set
Murray served first to open the match, getting underway with two drop shot winners as he came through the easy hold. Del Potro followed with a good hold of his own before putting Murray in danger at 0-40 on return. The Brit saved the first two break points with an ace and an outstanding volley but the break was handed away on the third with a bad miss from Murray, giving the Argentine a 2-1 lead.
The world number one fired a backhand down the line winner to edge in front on return as he looked to earn the break back. An error followed from del Potro, leaving him in danger at 0-30. The Argentine hammered in some huge serves to bring him through the next four points, coming through the danger to consolidate his lead. A couple of errors from Murray left him in trouble on serve again at deuce but the Brit came through to stay a game away from his opponent.
Del Potro battered his way through another hold of serve, showing off his stunning forehand as he extended his lead to 4-2. The Argentine had opportunities in the following game at 15-30 but was unable to make the most of them as Murray came through another tight game on serve. An excellent drop shot from the Brit gave him a lead on return at 15-30. The first break points for the world number one followed with an error from del Potro but the Argentine quickly refocused, firing down four huge serves in a row to sail through the danger and out with at 5-3 lead.
A monstrous return from del Potro took him two points away from securing the set. Another stunning forehand winner from the Argentine's racket brought up a set point but a shanked return brought the pair to deuce. An excellent forehand, this time from Murray, brought up game point as the Brit hung on to force del Potro to try and serve it out. An outstanding lob from Murray took him into the lead on return again as he looked to find a way back into the set. The Brit found himself at 15-40 for the second return game in a row but again del Potro fought back to deuce. Another set point came and went for the Argentine as he struck a backhand unforced error. A double fault followed to hand the advantage back to Murray. The world number one finally got the break at this fourth opportunity with a forehand winner to level the set 5-5.
Both men hung onto their next two service games to send the set into a tiebreak. A nightmare start came for Murray as he hit his first double fault of the match on the opening point, handing del Potro a mini-break straight away. The Argentine gave the break back with an unforced error as Murray edged ahead to 3-2. The pair hung on to their next few points on serve, with Murray serve-volleying his way to 5-4. The next mini-break went the way of the world number one with a well-executed drop shot but he was unable to take either of his two set points, handing back the mini-break with an unforced error to level the pair at 6-6. Del Potro went ahead with a great pickup giving him set point but he lost it with an untimely double fault. There was a dramatic end to the set as del Potro hit a forehand just wide on Murray's third set point. The ball was called out but the umpire wasn't sure which mark it was but after being shown by the linesman, Murray was awarded the set 7-6(8) as del Potro slumped over the net in disappointment.
World number one in charge
Murray took advantage of the Argentine's slow start as he was clearly affected by the loss of the opener, breaking in the opening game to keep his momentum rolling. The world number one chased down a drop shot and fired a forehand winner to consolidate the break. The Argentine struggled again on serve but eventually came through, saving two break points to get his first game on the board at 2-1.
An easy hold followed for Murray, racing through a love game to move ahead to 3-1. Del Potro was hanging on to his serve but was still unable to break through on the Brit's serve as Murray continued cruising, chasing down a drop shot and making an excellent pick up around the net post on his way to a 4-2 lead.
Each man came through another solid hold of serve each before del Potro was forced to serve to stay in the set. There were opportunities for Murray at 30-30 but the Argentine quickly erased them with a huge serve and a drop shot winner giving the world number one the chance to serve out a two-set lead. The Argentine found new life as he was returning to stay in the set, throwing everything at Murray to earn two break points. The first was quickly dealt with as the Brit fired in a huge serve and deep hitting on the second forced an error from del Potro to send the pair to deuce. The world number thirty continued battling and got the break on his third opportunity to level the set at 5-5.
Murray bounced back immediately, earning three break points in the next game. Scorching forehands from del Potro saved all three and locked the pair at deuce. A bad miss on the forehand from the Argentine brought up a fourth break point and Murray struck a signature lob to win the point that would allow him to serve for the set a second time. There was no danger this time around as Murray hammered down an ace to take the set 7-5.
Cruising to victory
The beginning of the third set took the same course as the second as Murray took charge, breaking del Potro's serve in the opening game. Another break followed after the world number one held serve, racing away to a 3-0 lead as he looked to finish the match in convincing fashion. The Brit looked confident in his shots as he came through another impressive service game to go two games away from the fourth round. Murray was in full flow as he sailed through another break of the Argentine's serve with some excellent returning allowing him to take charge.
Murray was in danger of letting one of the breaks slip as del Potro fought his way to 0-30. A stunning forehand cross-court winner gave Murray his first point of the game but an error followed, giving del Potro two break points. Deep hitting from the Argentine on the first wasn't enough as Murray came up with another clean winner after defending so well. The world number one charged into the net on the second to close out the point and bring the pair to deuce. Murray secured the win with a 6-0 bagel set to book a place in the last sixteen.