Andy Murray came through a gritty third round match against the 29th seed Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets 7-6(8), 7-5, 6-0 to reach the fourth round where he will either face John Isner or Karen Khachanov.

Murray’s stuttering start to his matches continued against del Potro. The Argentine came all guns blazing with forehand drives on either side of the court, along with some cunning shot placements at the net that kept Murray off-balance, eventually seeing to it that he lost his serve as early as in the third game.

Repetitive attempts made by Murray to get back in the set were thwarted repeatedly. First in the fourth game as he tried to consolidate his break, when he fell 0-30 behind the Briton and then again in the eighth game as the score was tied at deuce. But, on both occasions, the Argentine escaped unharmed, only to fall short during the clutch moments of the set thereafter.

A couple of ill-timed double faults put paid to del Potro’s chances of taking the opening set – first, when he was serving for the set at 5-4, and then in the tie-break while leading 7-6. He came with a couple of stinging forehand winners to bring up his fourth set point at 8-7, but immediately spewed errors to help bring Murray on par. However, long as the set was, the ending seemed a little too abrupt as Murray converted on his third set point after del Potro hit an unforced error off his most dependable wing – his forehand.

No late turnarounds from del Potro

Murray broke del Potro in the first game of the second set itself. He soon consolidated the break to go up 2-0. As in the first set, nerves also crept on Murray’s game as he tried to serve out the set for a two-set lead in the 10th game, with the former French Open semi-finalist breaking back. However, a quick break back on del Potro’s serve in the following game had Murray serve out the set to put himself ahead firmly in the match.

Between the first two sets, while Murray’s conversion of points off his first serves hovered at about 60% to del Potro’s solid 77% in the first set, the second set saw him gain more traction on his first serve winning percentage – 79% to del Potro’s 64%. Moreover, with del Potro preferring to take his shots more inside-out – and inside-in – from his forehand, the pressure started to tell on him, which put the match more firmly on Murray’s side.

The 28-year-old’s game – and body language – sagged all the more in the third set, as the world No 1 broke him back-to-back to gain a 3-0 headstart. A third break of the Argentine’s serve had Murray serve for the match in the sixth game, with him quickly raising three match points. Though del Potro fought back to bring the game to deuce, Murray held his ground to eventually get the win on his second match point.

In his on-court post-match interaction with Cedric Pioline, commenting on the match, Murray said, “The first set was very important for the rest of the match. He was playing better than me in the first set. Both of us had some chances in the first set. I played some good tennis towards the end.”