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Murray displays heart of champion to advance in French Open

Andy Murray

You just don’t fold up like that especially when you are the world No. 1.

Andy Murray displayed that trait when he faced a gritty unseeded opponent in the second round of the French Open on Thursday.

Just like what champions do, he had to dig deep into his vast reservoir of shots to prevail.

On Thursday, the defending men’s champion laboured through three hours and 34 minutes to bump off Martin Klizan of Slovakia, 6-7 (3-7), 6,2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) and reach the third round of the clay court tournament.

The 30-year-old Scot found his groove after losing the first set and showed his opponent the nerves of steel that brought him plenty of titles under his belt.

And of course, letting everyone know why he is the leading men’s player on the planet.

Though his season was marred with illness and injury, Murray registered his 18th win since recuperating. It was also his second four-set victory of the week.

He will be up against veteran Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the next round.

The 29th-seeded del Potro, himself back from injury woes, advanced after Nicolas Almagro of Spain quit due to a leg injury with the count at one set apiece.

It will be a repeat of the thrilling 2016 Olympic final against Del Potro, whom Murray defeated, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, to claim a second consecutive gold medal in the Games.

Murray was joined in the next phase by British No. 2 Kyle Edmund, who brushed aside Renzo Olivo of Argentina, 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.

Edmund will next clash with South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who trimmed Australian Nick Kyrgios, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

The 27-year-old Klizan, No. 50 in the world, started the match with his left calf heavily strapped. After outplaying Murray in the first set, he lost steam and the latter took advantage of it.

Murray won seven straight games and when he made it 11 out of 13 to assume a two-sets-to-one advantage, Klizan looked finished.

But the Slovakian somehow came alive in the fourth after taking a 5-3 lead, but he failed to serve out the set.

Murray broke Klizan for the sixth time and despite saving one match point, Murray showed the poise of a champion.

He eventually emerge victor at the Suzanne Lenglen Court after whipping a brilliant volley past his foe on the second match point.

Murray said afterwards that he expected a tough battle against Klizan whom he praised for coming up with big forehand shots.

Against the 28-year-old del Potro, Murray will take on a battle-tested opponent who can be at his dangerous best against higher-rated nemesis.

Del Potro’s finest achievement so far was winning the 2009 US Open, during which he beat Rafael Nadal in the semi-final and then Roger Federer in the final.

“It will be very tough, Juan Martin plays better than his ranking. He has come back from injuries and had some tough draws this year. He is playing well but has played some good players in early rounds,’’ said Murray as he looks forward to the match.