On a day where British tennis was targeting double joy, it was poster boy Andy Murray that prevailed with a hard fought 7-6(8), 7-5, 6-0, win over Juan Martin del Potro at the French Open.
The highly anticipated encounter was a rematch of last year’s final at the Rio Olympic Games. Initially, both players managed to live up to the pre-match hype with a marathon opening set before Murray exerted his dominance against a gradually fading Del Potro.
Resuming their rivalry on an almost packed Court Philippe Chatrier, both men were out to prove a point. Murray was seeking a solid performance after what has been a roller coaster season on the clay for the world No.1. Meanwhile, Del Potro was eager to dismiss ongoing injury concerns that has overshadowed him before and during this year’s tournament.
Signs of any physical issues hampering the Argentine were vacant from the onset of the match. Del Potro’s blistering forehand tested the No.1 seed, who went down a break almost instantly. There was little to choose between both players with 35 points each after ten games during what was a set worthy of a grand slam final. Del Potro failed to capitalise on his lead as Murray battled valiantly, saving two set points on route, to level the match at 5-5.
The closeness between the two resulted in a thrilling opening set tiebreaker. Murray was on course to take it with ease after a backhand drop shot elevated him two set points at 6-4. Still, it was not enough to tame Del Potro, who then claimed three points to move ahead. Engaged in some gripping baseline rallies, prompting praise from the crowd, Murray survived the scare to come out on top. Ironically, it was Del Potro’s trusted forehand that let him down after a shot drifted just out. Murray’s response was a fist pump directed towards his camp, but del Potro wasn’t convinced. The outcome was eventually confirmed by the match umpire after he consulted with a lineman. Del Potro’s heavy investment was visible as he slumped over the net after dropping the marathon 82-minute set.
“It was tough because I think he (del Potro) was playing much better than me in the first set.” Murray admitted during his post-match interview.
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