By Ros Satar
Andy Murray continues his march towards the second week at the French Open, against the Aussie showman Nick Kyrgios.
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And then there was one! On one of the tougher surfaces, just Andy Murray remains to fly the flag in the Singles events after British women’s No. 1 Heather Watson came up short against Sloane Stephens. As it was, Murray faced a sterner test than in his previous five meetings against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, when a lapse in his game allowed Sousa back in the match, and even to threaten going up a break in the third set before Murray steadied the ship to take control of the third set and the fourth for a 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory and a place in the third round.
With his young compatriot Kyle Edmund sadly pulling out of his match against Nick Kyrgios, Murray meets the Australian showman for the second time this year and third time in their careers, with both wins so far going to Murray in straight sets.
Kyrgios has of course rocketed up the rankings from just inside the Top 200 last year, to Top 30 now, with his notable wins against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year, and this year he claimed the scalp of Roger Federer in the Swiss’ opener in Madrid. With a run to the final in Estoril, where he lost to Richard Gasquet, he has the props on clay, and his first round this year in Paris against Denis Istomin was a comfortable straight sets win.
Kyrgios has already had more than his fair share of injuries in his short career, including issues with his back and more recently his elbow, causing him to retire in his match against Dominic Thiem in the Nice second round. But on his side, he rallied from two sets down twice at the Australian Open this year, and there is nothing he loves more than a big stage.
It is always a tough call to know whether the walkover is a help or a hindrance to Kyrgios, especially in light of Murray being the first of the favourites this year to drop a set. With his defence, and variety of shots, Murray has always proved to have the weapons to easily handle Kyrgios, but it wold be great to see Murray being much more aggressive. Kyrgios has a steady and solid serve and a blistering forehand, and an all-round physicality on court and if he is allowed to dictate, Murray could find himself in the same position he was with Sousa where he could not make many in-roads into his service games for a spell.
Kyrgios can have a tendency to be quite mercurial in terms of being on or off his game, and those are the areas where Murray is likely to pounce, as the fourth round and second week beckons.
Murray and Kyrgios are scheduled on Court Suzanne Lenglen at 11am CET (10am BST).