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Andy Murray played some extremely clever tennis to see off Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets. It was his use of variety, so often dismissed as a lesser aspect of his game - but one which nonetheless sets him apart from many others on tour - which left Del Potro totally undone in the final set. The angles, drop shots, lobs, the changing pace and spin, all came together for the world number one to seal a confidence boosting victory.
Many were expecting a rematch of Andy's last sixteen encounter with John Isner in his 2016 run to the final, but it was the world number fifty-three Karen Khachanov who emerged the victor in four sets, featuring three tiebreaks, two of which he won to the loss of just four points across them. The win pushes the young Russian to third in the NextGen Race to the end of year showdown of the ATP's brightest young stars in Milan in November, and he is now the youngest man left in the draw.
Andy often takes time to work out a new opponent, and a feature of his last two matches in Paris have been slow starts - both Klizan and Del Potro broke him in his second service game. Khachanov has shown himself to be strong in tight sets: against Berdych he held strong in the first set to take it 7-5 and then held onto early breaks in the second and third; while in his delayed match against Isner he allowed the famously giant server just six holds to love out of twenty-one of the American's service games.
Khachanov has been somewhat overlooked in the discussions of the future of tennis. Zverev and Coric are ahead of him in the NextGen Race and caught the tennis world's attention back in 2014, and have had the spotlight on them ever since. The Russian won his first ATP title in Chengdu last autumn, dropping two sets across the week, and seeing off a range of different game styles. His own game style features a selection of big shots and a powerful serve, his return statistics are solid - at least 30% average first serve return points won, and 50% second serve return points won.
The six foot six Khachanov is inexperienced at this level, but clay is proving to be his best surface in terms of match wins on the main tour. The surface requires the sort of thought processes that his childhood chess classes can only serve to support as he takes on one of the games biggest on-court thinkers.
The match will be played second on court Philippe Chatrier, on Monday 5th June, at an estimated start time of 1pm local time, 12 noon BST, 6am CDT. The weather is forecast to be dry and partly sunny and cloudly, with highs of 23 degrees Celsius, and a south westerly wind of 10-13mph.
This is the first meeting between the two. With thanks to Bev for the head-to-head image.
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