Saturday 16 December 2017

Murray ready to shrug off threat of Klizan's curveballs

Britain's Andy Murray applauds as he plays Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov during their first round match the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. Photo: AP
Britain's Andy Murray applauds as he plays Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov during their first round match the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros. Photo: AP

Simon Briggs

It is five years since Andy Murray was described as a "drama queen" by Virginia Wade, after a match here at the French Open which featured all manner of strange physical contortions.

The label has proved hard to shift, perhaps because so many of Murray's matches develop into theatrical productions. Take his first-round encounter on Tuesday, in which he threatened to lose his way against world No 73 Andrey Kuznetsov before a miraculous lob restored his self-belief, whereupon he reeled off the last eight games like the world No 1 he still happens to be.

But if Murray can be a complex and unpredictable character on court, he comes across as vanilla compared to today's opponent Martin Klizan. On a tour that is rediscovering some of the bad-boy edge of the 1980s, Klizan is a serious hothead. Only this week, he and his first-round opponent Laurent Lokoli began shouting at each other at a changeover, prompting the umpire to skip down from the chair and separate them. If Klizan's temper is always fiery, he is also prone to fading in and out of matches. In this latest instance Lokoli accused him of exaggerating a calf injury. Was this gamesmanship? Perhaps, although there is no obvious reason why it helped Klizan to lose the fourth set 6-0. In any case, Murray believes he will be able to cope with any curveballs the world No 50 might throw at him.

"I've seen him play and he's unorthodox," said Murray of Klizan. "He'll go through patches in the match where he's playing some unbelievable stuff and then he drops off a little and plays some strange shots which may appear like he's not interested. "

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal posted identical scorelines to reached the third round yesterday, with the defending champion seeing off Joao Sousa 6-1 6-4 6-3 before Nadal defeated Robin Haase.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is out however. The Frenchman was on the ropes against world number 91 Renzo Olivo when play was finally stopped at 9.55pm on Tuesday night. Tsonga had just broken back to trail 5-4 in the fourth set and by two sets to one, meaning he had to serve to stay in the match when it resumed yesterday.

But he lasted just one game - albeit a dramatic one. After pulling back from 40-0, Tsonga missed a chance to level at 5-5 before Olivo took his fourth match point to win 7-5 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-4.

Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova's return to action ended in the second round of the ladies singles as she lost 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. (© Daily Telegraph)

French Open,

Live, ITV4 9.30/eir Sport 1 10.0

Telegraph.co.uk

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