All Top 10 seeds in action punched through, and mouth-watering fourth-rounders such as Kei Nishikori vs. Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray vs. John Isner were realized on Friday at the French Open.
The No. 2-seeded Murray took a respite from five-set matches on Friday, defeating No. 27 seed “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3).
Murray said he was happy to close it out in a third-set tiebreak and improve to 7-0 career against Dr. Ivo.
“Especially at the end, it was very close in the third set,” Murray said. “I got off to a quick start and against someone like Ivo, that’s important. He fought right to the end and made it very tough. I’m obviously glad to win the tiebreak and get off after a fairly quick match.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 3 and defending champ Stan Wawrinka beating homecountry favorite and No. 30 seed Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-3, 7-5; the No. 5 Nishikori stretched to the limit by Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4; No. 8 Milos Raonic rolling past Slovak Andrej Martin 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-3; and the No. 9 Gasquet putting down the hype of No. 17 Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 7-6(7), 6-2.
“Everything that I did today was pretty high-level,” said Wawrinka, who will next face No. 22 Viktor Troicki, who on Friday beat No. 16 Gilles Simon in straight sets. “The last time I played [Troicki] on clay was a three-hour match in Belgrade [in 2010]. He’s a player who plays well. He plays his own [style] of tennis.”
Gasquet seemed to play with a new belief against Kyrgios, with Nishikori next in an all-Top 10 battle.
“[Nishikori is] one of the best players in the world now. He can win a Grand Slam,” Gasquet said. “He takes the ball very high, so he’s one of the toughest players for me right now. He’s the favorite — I think I can win and I’ll try my best.”
The No. 15 Isner ground out a five-set win over Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6(7), 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Isner will look to end a five-match losing streak against Murray.
“I played him one time in Cincinnati and had match points, and last year in Shanghai I won the first set and had a lot of chances in the second,” said Isner. “He’s played the big points better than me, which is one of the reasons why he’s No. 2 in the world. Against a guy like Andy, I have to play big in the big moments and I’ll try to do that.”
The only upset of the day occurred when Spaniard Albert Ramos took down No. 23-seeded American Jack Sock in five sets 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Oh yeah, and Rafael Nadal announced he is out of the tournament.
Matches to watch for on Saturday at Roland Garros include (6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Ernests Gulbis, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. Brit Aljaz Bedene, (13) Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev, (12) David Goffin vs. Nicolas Almagro, an all-Spanish in (11) David Ferrer vs. (21) Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, and (14) Roberto Bautista-Agut vs. Borna Coric.
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