What to watch Friday at French Open: Murray vs Karlovic


By Samuel Petrequin

AP Sports Writer

PARIS — It’s hard to say who will be in better shape Friday when Andy Murray plays Ivo Karlovic in the third round of the French Open.

The second-seeded Murray already has been pushed to five sets twice in Paris. Karlovic, seeded No. 27, needed 41 aces to win his second-round match in five sets. He became, at 37, the oldest man to reach the third round of a major since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 U.S. Open. Karlovic spent 4 hours, 31 minutes on the red clay to set up his match with Murray.

Not since Gaston Gaudio in 2004 has a player been taken to five sets in each of the French Open’s first two rounds and gone on to claim the title.

The good news for Murray, a three-time semifinalist in Paris, is that his next opponent plays serve and volley and does not like long rallies.

“Physically, the average rally length will only be a few shots, maybe three, four shots max,” Murray said.

The stats are also playing in favor of the former Wimbledon champion. Murray and Karlovic have played each other six times and the lanky Croat never won, although their matches have often been tight and featured eight tiebreakers.

“Normally against Ivo, the sets are very close,” Murray said. “Plays a lot of tiebreaks, because he’s so tough to break. But the points are not physically demanding, so that’s why I’m saying it’s not always easy to play against him. But right now, I’d take that as positive.”

A look at what else is happening at the French Open on Friday:

RIVALRY RENEWED: Two years ago in Wimbledon, Nick Kyrgios rallied from two sets down and saved nine match points to overcome Richard Gasquet and reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Gasquet avenged his loss the next year on the London grass and the pair now renews the rivalry on Gasquet’s home turf. Both won their first two matches in straight sets.

“He’s the best newcomer coming now, so it will be an incredible match for me,” the ninth-seeded Gasquet said about his 21-year-old opponent. “We know each other very well. We have played many times against each other. I know his game; he knows mine.”

STAN ON HIS GUARD: Next up for defending champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round is 30th-seeded Jeremy Chardy.

Wawrinka has dropped just one set in their previous four matches, but the Swiss says he’ll need to raise his game against the Frenchman after winning his opening match in five sets and ruing some “up and downs” in his second-round victory over Taro Daniel of Japan.

“Chardy is a dangerous player. He’s playing really fast and heavy, big serve and always trying to use his forehand. He loves to play here, so I will have to play better,” the third-seeded Wawrinka said.

OSAKA’S BIG CHANCE: Having won her first two matches without dropping a set in her first appearance at Roland Garros, Naomi Osaka is now taking on a top 10 player for the first time. The 101th-ranked Japanese, the youngest player remaining in the draw at 18, faces sixth-seeded Simona Halep on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Osaka, who made it to the third round at the Australian Open on her Grand Slam debut in the main draw, has already equaled her best result at a major.

“It’s going to be really fun,” Osaka said. “Because she’s someone I have watched on the TV a lot.”

By Samuel Petrequin

AP Sports Writer

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