Mur­ray strug­gles amid Djokovic chase in Paris

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

ANDY MUR­RAY (pix) laboured past a de­ter­mined Fer­nando Ver­dasco to reach the last 16 of the Paris Mas­ters yes­ter­day and keep the pres­sure on world No. 1 No­vak Djokovic.

Mur­ray is seek­ing to end Djokovic’s l22week reign at the top, but the Bri­ton was pushed to the limit by Ver­dasco in the French cap­i­tal be­fore pre­vail­ing 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 75.

The se­cond seed raced through the open­ing set but was forced into a de­cider after Ver­dasco, who had lost in the first round in five of his past six tour­na­ments, lev­elled in a tie-break.

The Spa­niard then saw two break points pass him by at 5-all in the third set, with Mur­ray break­ing the fol­low­ing game to fi­nally end Ver­dasco’s re­sis­tance.

“It wasn’t the best match from my side. I got through it. I will play bet­ter to­mor­row,” said Mur­ray after seal­ing his 70th win of the sea­son.

“I didn’t get any time on that court, be­cause matches are from 11:00 in the morn­ing and guys have warmup. So I have hit for like 45 min­utes on the court be­fore­hand, and it’s very dif­fer­ent to last week, very dif­fer­ent con­di­tions.”

Mur­ray, a win­ner in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Vi­enna in his past three events, will con­tinue his as­sault on Djokovic when he faces Lu­cas Pouille for a place in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Djokovic, the record four-time cham­pion, marched into the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 vic­tory over Lux­em­bourg’s Gilles Muller.

The Serb needed four set points be­fore claim­ing the opener, with Djokovic then break­ing at 4-all in the se­cond to ex­tend his Paris win­ning streak to 16 matches.

“It was great to start off the way I did to­day,” said Djokovic. “Not an easy op­po­nent, def­i­nitely, be­cause he serves and vol­leys, and I found the con­di­tions quite quick, quicker maybe than they have been last year.

“But nev­er­the­less, I think I man­aged to find the right rhythm, right pace from the very be­gin­ning.”

Djokovic – win­ner of the last three edi­tions of this tour­na­ment – will meet 14th seed Grigor Dim­itrov. – AFP

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