Normality was somewhat restored this weekend at the second Grand Slam of the year, Roland Garros: with Aljaz Bedene quite comfortably securing passage to the third round of a Slam for the first time in his career, and Andy Murray twice being taken to five sets in a shaky start for the Scot, it seems to be ‘business as usual’, with Murray safely through to the quarter-finals at the expense of big servers Ivo Karlovic and John Isner, while Aljaz Bedene’s unprecedented run was halted in three comfortable sets by World Number 1 Novak Djokovic.
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) May 29, 2016
Novak Djokovic wins his 24th consecutive match at a Major, downing Aljaz Bedene 6-2 6-3 6-3. He’s 37-1 in Slam matches since start of 2015.
— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) May 28, 2016
Aljaz Bedene, currently ranked #66 in the world, 21 places off his mid-2015 career high, struggled to really make much of an impact on the game of a dominant Djokovic – indeed, the Serb was in some bookies 1-200 favourite to win the match, indicating how unlikely it would have been for the Brit to cause an upset: Bedene’s game doesn’t match up well to Novak’s and it showed on court.
During the 6-2 6-3 6-3 victory for the World Number One, Bedene won zero of five pressure points, but was able to break the Serb’s serve twice in seven attempts. However, Djokovic’s sheer consistency and high level of tennis shone through, with 39 winners, 83% of games won after winning the first point, and a 76% first service percentage – all key stats in the Serb securing his 40th win of the year.
Bedene will be pleased with his efforts here this year, and the third round finish will certainly propel him back towards that career high after a year which has been ever so slightly underwhelming until this point.
After two heart-wrenching five set thrillers, Andy Murray finally allowed British fans to breathe easily with two very similar victories over two very similar players. Murray’s record against big servers is second-to-none, and his record against Karlovic and Isner before this week was 6-0 and 5-0 respectively. Credit to Karlovic, though, who at 37 years of age is still ranked inside the world’s top 30, but his 14 aces were not enough to avoid a 6-1 6-4 7-6(3) defeat from the British Number 1, who was on superlative form: Murray hit 34 winners compared to just 4 unforced errors, and with a first serve percentage of 75% and 88% of points won on that first serve, it’s hardly surprising the Brit didn’t face any break points for the entire match.
Next up for Murray was John Isner, a similarly tall, 30-plus veteran of the game. Isner, at 31, was the only American left in the draw in the last-16, yet another indication of the difficult spell American tennis is suffering at present. Murray wasn’t in the mood for sympathy, though, and despite facing three set points in the first set tiebreak, the Brit navigated that tricky spell, taking the breaker 11-9, before running out a comfortable 7-6(9) 6-4 6-3 victor.
Murray again served well, winning 83% of first serve points, but was tested a little more by the American: Murray was required to save five break points and did only manage to take two out of the ten he was offered, but regardless: Murray extended his winning streak to nine matches, and must now face a dangerous-looking Richard Gasquet at his home Slam in the quarter-finals, before a potential clash with reigning champion Stan Wawrinka awaits in the semis. And after that, we all know who the likely final opponent will be, especially after Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal.
Murray’s record against Gasquet is 8-4, with Murray having won their last five encounters, including a clash in the last-16 in Roland Garros back in 2012. Interestingly, the pair have met every year since 2006 on the tour – Wednesday’s meeting will be their first this year.