Andy Murray’s scintillating run of form continued as he disposed of Jeremy Chardy in straight sets at the Italian Open in Rome yesterday.
The world No 3 followed on from his impressive victory over Rafael Nadal in Madrid on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-3 victory in an hour and 24 minutes to move into the third round as he prepares for the French Open.
It was tough for me. But I hung in. I served well throughoutAndy Murray
Chardy looked to be keeping pace with the third seed, who only confirmed his participation in the tournament on Tuesday, but surrendered two break points against the Murray serve in the sixth game in what proved to be a crucial moment in the match.
The two-time Slam winner made the Frenchman pay immediately as he seized on a double-fault from Chardy before hitting a trademark backhand cross-court winner to claim a vital break of serve, and it was plain-sailing from there.
Murray went on to wrap up the first set in 44 minutes as his imperious clay-court form continued, after securing his first two ATP Tour titles on the surface in the last two weeks.
The 27-year-old Scot stepped up his game in the second set, and produced a stunning cross-court forehand to leave Chardy stranded on the baseline as he headed towards an early break in the fifth game. The advantage was sealed by another backhand winner past an onrushing Chardy, whose game began to unravel with a series of unforced errors.
Murray’s serve was in fine fettle as he racked up six aces before his tenth straight win on clay was sealed with another break of serve. He will now face David Goffin in the third round today following the Belgian’s win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The third seed admitted his recent schedule had taken its toll at the beginning of the match. “My legs were a bit tired at the beginning, but then I started to feel better after the first few games,” Murray said.
“For me, I felt like I played a really good match. He served big for the first set and a half.
“It was tough for me. But I hung in; I felt like I moved pretty well and I served well throughout the match. I was happy with the way I adjusted to the conditions. I felt like I moved well and made it difficult for him to win three points.”
Murray has never been past the semi-finals in Rome and is looking to peak at the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks. “It’s not impossible,” Murray said of his chances of reaching the final or winning at Roland Garros. “Whereas, maybe the last few years, even though I played some good tennis in Paris I didn’t feel like I was maybe healthy enough, or played enough matches or had enough big wins against top players to believe I could do it. Maybe this year will be different. There’s a chance. If I play well then I know I have the chance to go far in the tournament.”
Seven-time Rome champion Nadal was also in form yesterday in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan while Kei Nishikori advanced with a 7-6 (3), 7-5 win over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.
In the women’s tournament, British No 1 Heather Watson was dumped out after a heavy 6-1, 6-1 second-round defeat by tenth-seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
Christina McHale of the US defeated last year’s finalist, Sara Errani, 6-4, 6-4 in front of the Italian’s home crowd and will face top-ranked Serena Williams in the third round.