Murray: Verdasco will have edge
7:53am Monday 2nd June 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Andy Murray will hope he is not extended quite as much as he was the last time he played Fernando Verdasco when they meet in the fourth round of the French Open on Monday.
Murray went into extra time in a fifth set for the first time in his career in beating German Philipp Kohlschreiber 3-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 12-10 at Roland Garros.
The pair had been held up by darkness at 7-7 on Saturday as Murray battled cramp, and it was the Scot who came out on top, just, after 40 minutes on Sunday.
It was Murray's first five-set match since he fought back from two sets down to defeat Spaniard Verdasco in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.
The win put Murray into the last 16 in Paris for the fifth consecutive time - he missed the tournament last year through injury.
In a nod to his critics, the 27-year-old said: "Not many people think I play particularly well on clay, so I would say that would give him (Verdasco) an edge there. He's obviously had some good results on clay.
"But he plays well on every surface. I t will be a tough match, for sure. He's incredibly talented, a very, very tough player. I need to play a good match and do everything I can to be fresh."
The Kohlschreiber match was Murray's first five-setter since his back surgery last September and his chance of progressing further may well depend on how well he recovers physically.
Murray produced one of his best performances on clay in Rome two weeks ago in losing a tight quarter-final against Rafael Nadal and believes he is learning all the time on the surface.
He said: " I've played well on clay the last few weeks. This last match against Philipp could have been one of my best wins if I managed to close out the fourth set, because he's a very, very tough player. Obviously it ended up becoming an extremely tough match.
"But it's a very good win for me to beat a player like him on this surface. Hopefully I can keep improving, keep learning.
"There were times when I was getting too far behind the baseline and being a bit too passive. I just need to try and make sure I get that balance right. And when I do, I play some good clay-court tennis."
Verdasco also had to finish off a match on Sunday, although his victory was a routine one over Richard Gasquet.
The 30-year-old, who is through to the last 16 for the first time in four years, said: "P laying Murray is never easy. He has wonderful tennis, and he won grand slams already, so I think he deserves all my respect.
"I have nothing to lose. He is a favourite because of his ranking. So I will try and play my best tennis."
The tournament lost another big name on Sunday when Roger Federer went down in five sets to Ernests Gulbis but Novak Djokovic breezed past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
In the women's tournament, title favourite Maria Sharapova fought back from a set down to beat Sam Stosur.