When the draw was made for the men’s event, there was one matchup that stood out when it came to the early rounds in terms of excitement. That matchup was between the current World No. 1 Andy Murray and the forever dangerous when fit, Juan Martin Del Potro. The pair navigated their opening two rounds safely to set up what could be a potential classic.
After a straight sets win in round one against Guido Pella, Del Potro could have found himself in a slugfest in round two having split sets with Nicolas Almagro only for disaster to strike for the Spaniard. Almagro suffered a nasty knee injury and had to retire on the spot, his opponent incredibly sympathetic given his own horrible luck with injuries over the years. Although obviously he preferred it not to work out this way, it worked out well for Del Potro who has a niggling groin injury himself. “Hopefully I can be in good shape, because I would like to play 100% in the third round, and I’m feeling good with my game at this moment, but I need to be in good shape,” said Del Potro. “We played great battles last year, one win each. Andy is one of the favorites to win this tournament. And now I know his game a lot, but I need to be in good shape and physically stronger to hold a long match if we play a long match, long rallies.”
Murray found himself once more in a battle against a lesser opponent on Thursday, needing 4 sets to see off Martin Klizan. It could have been much worse for him had he not fought back in the fourth set, coming back from 2-1 down to win in a fourth set tiebreak. It was one of Klizan’s better performances for a while but it’s still concerning Murray got dragged into such a match. “I expected it to be very tough,” Murray said. “He goes for huge shots. He can hit forehand winners from anywhere on the court. Sometimes you think you’ve hit a good shot and he comes up with unbelievable power from very defensive positions and makes winners. It’s very tough.”
Despite having been back and relatively fit for a while, Del Potro’s ranking still feels false with a disproportionately bad luck for a top 30 seed as he is.“He’s come back from injuries and he’s had a lot of tough draws this year. I think he’s played Novak a couple of times. He’s played a lot of top 10 players very early in the tournament. But he’s playing well this year and it will be a tough match.” They played twice last year, the first occasions since 2013. Neither disappointed, with an exciting Olympic final and more so in Davis Cup action, where he picked up a vital 5 set win in the semi finals.
Prediction – Andy Murray in four sets