Murray sails into French Open last 8
Halep, Svitolina set up quarter-final meeting
PARIS: World No.1 Andy Murray made short work of unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov to reach the French Open quarter-finals with a clean-as-you-like 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory yesterday.
Murray largely dispensed with the chuntering and lapses that accompanied his first two matches as he maintained the momentum established in beating Juan Martin del Potro with an assured display on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The 30-year-old Briton made only one unforced error in pocketing the opening set and although he did drop serve late in the second he broke back immediately to take complete control of his first meeting with the talented Russian.
The powerful 21-year-old Khachanov, playing in his third grand slam event, showed flashes of brilliance in the sunshine but not for long enough spells to worry Murray who is through to the quarter-finals for the seventh time.
Murray broke in the ninth game of the third set, having just dropped his own with a rare baseline error, and wrapped up his 650th tour-level win when Khachanov sprayed a forehand wide.
He will face either eighth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan or Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the last eight.
In the women’s fourth round, Simona Halep established her credentials to become the newest French Open champion with a blistering 6-1, 6-1 victory over Carla Suarez-Navarro to reach the quarter-finals.
With no former champions left in the field, pregnant Serena Williams watching from the sidelines and Maria Sharapova not invited to compete, third seed Halep has a golden opportunity to break into the grand slam winners’ circle.
Yesterday’s evidence suggested the Romanian may be ready for it.
“I was expecting a tough game against a very good claycourt player,” Halep said. “But I managed to push her back. I played a good game.”
There could be no arguments from any observers or from Suarez Navarro who appeared stunned at the outcome.
Before this clash there had been little to suggest it would be so one-sided. Halep led their head-to-head record, but only by 6-5.
On the stroke of the hour Suarez Navarro was put out of her misery, having made 41 errors.
Halep will next meet fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who beat the Romanian in the Italian Open final last month.
Svitolina yesterday dug deep to produce her best tennis in adversity, beating Croatian qualifier Petra Martic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Martic, ranked 290th in the world after a 10-month injury lay-off last year, was two points from victory at 5-2, 30-0 on her opponent’s serve, but Svitolina unleashed a barrage of winners to claim 20 of the last 26 points.
“I decided to give everything I had and stay strong mentally. I hope I will recover from my injury,” said the fifth seed, who received on-court treatment on her lower back at the beginning of the decider.
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych has parted company with coach Goran Ivanisevic after suffering an early French Open exit last week, the Czech said yesterday.
The world No.14 suffered a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Karen Khachanov of Russia in the second round at Roland Garros.
“Goran and I will not be working together anymore,” Berdych wrote on Twitter. “I enjoyed the ride and we will remain great friends. Wish him all the best in the future and I am committed to go after my goals with current team.”
Croatian Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion who helped Marin Cilic win the US Open in 2014, joined Berdych’s coaching team in August.
(x denotes seeding)
Men’s fourth round
Andy Murray (GBR x1) v Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Women’s fourth round
Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Petra Martic (CRO) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
Simona Halep (ROM x3) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x21) 6-1, 6-1