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Murray maintains natural order

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-07 07:22

Murray maintains natural order

Britain's Andy Murray unleashes a serve against Russia's Karen Khachanov during their fourth-round French Open match at Roland Garros, Paris, on Monday. World No 1 Murray easily advanced to the quarterfinals for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory. [Photo/Agencies]

While 'usual suspects' advance to men's quarters, women's draw chaotic

PARIS - For all of the tumult in the French Open women's draw and the unfamiliar names filling the quarterfinal slots, the men's tournament has been much more about the usual suspects: Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and, of course, Rafael Nadal.

Top seed Murray, a three-time major champion and last year's runner-up at Roland Garros, and third-seeded Wawrinka, whose own trio of Grand Slam trophies includes the 2015 French Open, moved into the quarters with easy straight-set wins on Monday.

While three of the winners in women's fourth-round action on Monday - No 2 Karolina Pliskova, No 3 Simona Halep and No 5 Elina Svitolina - are highly seeded, none of the eight players left in that field has ever won a Grand Slam.

And they're all well aware.

"Everyone knows who remains in the draw," said Svitolina, who was two points from losing before coming back to beat 290th-ranked Petra Martic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. "It's a big opportunity."

There's a lot more experience among the remaining men.

There's Murray and Wawrinka on the top half of the bracket. On the bottom half, No 2 Djokovic, the defending champion, and No 4 Nadal, seeking a record-extending 10th title in Paris, would set up a semifinal showdown with victories on Tuesday.

"Looks like one of the top four guys" is going to end up grasping the champion's Coupe des Mousquetaires, seven-time major titlist John McEnroe observed.

He added that "quite probably" the quartet will come through their quarterfinals.

It certainly looks that way at the moment.

Murray was barely tested in the fourth round, beating 21-year-old Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka had only a bit more trouble, eliminating the last Frenchman, No 15 Gael Monfils, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Next for Murray is a match against No 8 Kei Nishikori, who got past a slow start to defeat Fernando Verdasco 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

Murray's head-to-head record against Nishikori is 8-2. Wawrinka, meanwhile, is 11-2 against his quarterfinal opponent, seventh seed Marin Cilic, who was leading 6-3, 3-0 when Kevin Anderson stopped because of an injured left hamstring.

Cilic knows what it takes to win a major title - he topped Nishikori in the 2014 US Open final - so he appreciates his easy path. He has not dropped a set.

"It's a huge bonus for me, looking to the rest of the tournament and know that, mentally and physically, I haven't spent any energy at all," said Cilic.

Murray did not arrive in Paris at the height of his powers, dealing with a cold and some recent shaky results. But he appears to have found his form.

Instead of discussing the match in the traditional on-court TV interview, Murray took the microphone to remember the 29 people who died in the recent terror attacks in London and Manchester.

"Obviously there was terrible tragedy in London and Manchester. Paris has had its problems too, in recent years," said Murray.

"I am sure everyone will join me. We share our thoughts and prayers with everyone who has been affected.

"I appreciate everyone still coming out to support the tennis. I am grateful that I can still perform in front of everyone."

Dealing quite well with a swirling wind that other players complained about, Murray made only 14 unforced errors and broke the strong-serving Khachanov five times.

"Each match, I feel like I played better," said Murray, who became the 15th man with 650 tour-level match victories and has a .782 career winning percentage.

"I have hit the ball cleaner and started to see the right shots at the right moments. Yeah, come a long way the last 10 days or so."

Wawrinka's biggest difficulty was that his lower back locked up on him early against Monfils.

Wawrinka took a medical timeout midway through the second set, getting an on-court massage, but then played well the rest of the way, using his trademark one-handed backhand to great effect.

"I have experienced this before. I'm not seriously worried. It doesn't keep me from playing, and it doesn't keep me from playing well," Wawrinka said about his back. "Let's put it this way: It's under control."

The 22-year-old Svitolina dealt with sudden pain in her back about a half-hour before her match and said she panicked. Then it affected her play.

But after trailing 5-2 in the third set, and love-30 while serving, she switched to what she called 'Svitolina Mode' and barely a missed a shot the rest of the way.

She won 20 of the last 24 points.

Svitolina plays 2014 runner-up Halep, who defeated No 21 Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-1.

So what, exactly, is Svitolina Mode?

"I just try to put myself in a zone where I don't make too many unforced errors while still playing aggressive," said the Ukrainian.

In another quarterfinal, Pliskova meets No 28 Caroline Garcia, a 6-2, 6-4 winner against Alize Cornet in an all-French match-up.

Associated Press

 

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