Andy Murray delighted to make speedy progress past Karlovic at French Open

Andy Murray celebrates winning in Paris
Andy Murray celebrates winning in Paris

Andy Murray hopes he has repaired some of the damage from his first two matches at the French Open after taking a much more direct route into the fourth round.

Having expended considerable physical, emotional and mental energy battling from behind to beat Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue in five sets, Murray knew he could not afford another epic.

The Scot was happy to be facing 6ft 11in Ivo 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 said: “Obviously any match you play, the quicker you get it done, the better, especially in these events with best of five when it can go long.

“So it was nice to win quickly today. I spoke about that the other day, if it was possible to get this one done quickly, it gives me a chance to recover from the first few days, which is good.

“I have had good success against him in the past, and I have always enjoyed playing against serve and volleyers, normally.

“Obviously it’s a bit easier. I didn’t know my opponent in the second round, (I’ve) never really seen him play a match, which can make things a bit tricky. But today was different.”

The match was also good practice for his next clash, where he will face 6ft 10in John Isner, who came from two sets to one down to defeat Teymuraz Gabashvili in five.

Having made it seven wins from seven against Karlovic, Murray will look to notch a sixth straight win against Isner.

Murray used his day off on Thursday to recover physically and spend time with wife Kim and baby daughter Sophia and appears to be in good shape.

He said: “I felt okay today actually. Yesterday I was a bit tired. I had a very light practice yesterday and just tried to keep my feet up and recover as best as possible, tried to get as much sleep as I could, spend a lot of time with the physio, and then just resting to try to give myself the best chance to feel good today.”

Murray flew out of the blocks, winning the first three points on Karlovic’s serve and then breaking with a lob over the towering Croatian, who had hoped to become the oldest man since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1972 to reach the fourth round here.

Karlovic managed to avoid losing a love set for only the fifth time in his career and thereafter it was much tighter.

Murray broke again at the start of the second set, his third break in four Karlovic service games, and that was enough to give him a two-set lead.

There were no breaks in the third but Murray made the perfect start to the tie-break with a dinked backhand pass and never looked in trouble.

The statistics made happy reading for the 29-year-old, who did not face a break point, made 75 per cent of his first serves, hit 34 winners and made only four unforced errors.

Murray, meanwhile, expressed surprise but not total shock following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal because of a wrist injury.

The Scot, who could not have met Nadal until the final, told ITV4: “I’m surprised but I knew he’d been struggling with his wrist.

“I practised with him before the tournament and his wrist was strapped heavily. He was grimacing sometimes.”