Andy Murray recovered from an early deficit to seal his place in the third round of the 2017 French Open on Thursday (1 June). The world no.1 defeated Martin Klizan in four sets to secure a latest meeting with Juan Martin del Potro, his Rio 2016 final adversary who showed commendable compassion to comfort Nicolas Almagro after the latter was forced to retire due to a left knee injury with their match tied at 6-1, 1-6, 1-1.
Looking to win his first title at Roland Garros, Murray, beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final 12 months ago, opened his campaign with a four-set victory against Andrey Kuznetsov that came after a series of disappointing clay-court showings and another bout of illness.
His opponent, a hotheaded Slovakian currently ranked at 50 by the ATP, endured an eventful start to the tournament earlier this week when wildcard Laurent Lokoli refused to shake his hand after claiming that he had exaggerated a calf injury.
The pair were separated by the umpire after exchanging angry views at the changeover, with Lokoli apparently feeling that Klizan's loud celebrations were disrespectful.
Murray once again looked frustrated and out of kilter in a poor opening set that saw him broken early. He broke back to level proceedings at 5-5 as Klizan wobbled but disappointed in the tiebreak, giving away the opportunity for three set points - the first of which was claimed with an authoritative smash.
Murray improved notably as the match wore on, breaking twice in the second set and saving a couple of break points while serving to level the tie. He continued that momentum into an equally blistering third set and it appeared to all as if the three-time grand slam winner would wrap up a comfortable victory.
However, as has so often been the case with Murray during a difficult first half of 2017 that has seen him waylaid by an elbow injury and a bout of shingles, things did not go to script. He wasted a break opportunity in the first game of the fourth set and ceded the advantage with two more unforced errors.
Despite struggling with that aforementioned calf issue and receiving attention to an injured left shoulder, the spirited Klizan impressively stood firm and looked as if he would force a tense decider. However, Murray eventually ground him down and spurned two further break chances in a lengthy 11th game before easily holding to force a tiebreak which he won comfortably 7-3.
The Scot will have to improve in order to beat Del Potro, who is back at the French Open for the first time in five years and has recently struggled with shoulder and back problems.
"I expected it to be very tough," Murray said after a contest that lasted for three hours and 34 minutes. "He goes for huge shots and on his forehand he can hit winners anywhere on the court. Sometimes you think you have hit a good shot and then he comes up with unbelievable power from a defensive position. It was very tough.
"I tried to play a solid match. As it went on I hit deeper and started to dictate more points."