It will be a long, anxious night in Paris for Andy Murray who after going down two sets and a break to Viktor Troicki now finds himself deadlocked in a fifth set when play resumes tomorrow in the French Open fourth round.
Murray, hobbled early by his injured right ankle, was unable to stay with the powerful Serb early in their match, and when Troicki took the lead with a break in the third 2-1 it looked like curtains for the Scot.
But credit to Murray who seems to play his very best when the pressure is the least. With everyone giving up on Murray, he roared back taking the third and then the fourth before play was stopped because of darkness at about 9:30pm local time.
Murray will have to tend to his bad ankle in the evening and then see how it feels in the morning when he wakes up. Troicki, who was on the verge of choking had it not been for the darkness, has some time to regain his energy and focus.
Obviously, the key will be how Murray’s ankle reacts to the three hours of strain it went through today. If it holds up I think he wins. If not, the Serb, who did fight the nerves in winning the Davis Cup for Serbia, should come through.
It should be quite a battle.
And the winner of the Murray-Troicki match will take on the underdog Juan Ignacio Chela. The veteran from Argentina outlasted his fellow South American, qualifier Alejandro Falla, in five sets to advance to his second French Open quarterfinals.
Chela, who has a sneaky good backhand, will have a day off to enjoy Murray and Troicki’s battle tomorrow.
In the earlier matches, Rafael Nadal beat Ivan Ljubicic as expected, but again the 5-time French Open champ wasn’t terribly impressive in his 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“I have improved since the tournament started,” Nadal said. “I’m able to play better and I’m going to continue on this path.”
Up next for Rafa is a rematch with the only man to beat him at Roland Garros, Robin Soderling. The Swede hammered on Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-3, 7-6.
If Soderling plays like he did today and Rafa doesn’t tighten up his game, I give Robin a real shot at the upset on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
Not playing tomorroy is Novak Djokovic who got a pass into the semifinals when his opponent Fabio Fognini withdrew from the tournament with a strained thigh. Fognini reminded the press again today that it was in fact a thigh injury and not cramping that required treatment yesterday in his controversial 5-set win.
Regardless of what the injury really is – and only Fabio knows – Djokovic advances and also gets four days to rest and relax before a final six set push toward history, and just three sets from the No. 1 ranking.
With Djokovic’s quarterfinal determined that leaves the center stage tomorrow to Roger Federer and Gael Monfils who battle for a third time at the French Open. Monfils impressively finished off David Ferrer Monday in five sets 8-6 in the final set. The match was heldover from Sunday night with Ferrer leading 2-0 in the fourth.
Monfils has only beaten Federer once in six meetings that coming in Paris last fall. But tomorrow I think Federer has to be feeling confident and on his mark after thjose “practice sets” with Stan. And Fed knows the gameplan against Monfils which is to attack the Frenchman, something Ferrer really cannot do. Plus, playing three straight days might be a factor for Monfils.
Monfils, though, will have the crowd and the emotion and he has the ability to get a lot of balls back which will cause problems for Federer if he’s on his game. Also, he is playing a smarter, more controlled brand of tennis this week. But I do think in the end Federer is the fresher, fitter player of the two and he scrapes through in four sets.
As for the women, we saw a good performance today from Victoria Azarenka who seems ready to win her first Slam. Maria Sharapova, who is trying to complete her Slam, looked a little spotty in a win over Agnieska Radwanska. Aggie had several chances to take the second but couldn’t in a straight set loss.
Tomorrow the defending champ and my pick to win the title Francesca Schiavone meets AP to play either Sveta Kuznetsova or Marion Bartoli in the semifinals.
Matches begin a little later at 8am ET Tuesday on the Tennis Channel with ESPN picking it up in the afternoon.
TUESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 2:00 PM Start Time
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) v. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Gael Monfils (FRA) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
Robert Lindstedt (SWE) v. Max Mirnyi (BLR)
Horia Tecau (ROU) Daniel Nestor (CAN)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 2:00 PM Start Time
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Viktor Troicki (SRB) To Finish 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2
Scott Lipsky (USA) v. Michael Llodra (FRA)
Rajeev Ram (USA) Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v. Marion Bartoli (FRA)
Bob Bryan (USA) v. Rohan Bopanna (IND)
Mike Bryan (USA) Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK)
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