PARIS (AFP) — World No. 1 Andy Murray set up a French Open blockbuster against Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday, the latest chapter in what has developed into an epic rivalry.
Murray, the 2016 runner-up, reached the third round with a bruising 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) win over Martin Klizan of Slovakia.
Del Potro, playing in Paris for the first time in five years, went through after Nicolas Almagro retired in tears with a knee injury.
The giant Argentine was immediately hailed for his sportsmanship when he embraced and consoled the sobbing, stricken Spaniard courtside.
Out on Suzanne Lenglen court, world number 50 Klizan smashed 57 winners but 67 unforced errors as his all-or-nothing game proved in vain against top seed Murray.
Del Potro, no stranger to injury after a career-long battle with wrist problems, made the third round after Almagro quit in tears during the third set with a left knee injury.
Del Potro, 28, had taken the first set 6-3 before Almagro claimed the next by the same score.
They were locked at 1-1 in the third when Almagro quit.
Del Potro also suffered an injury scare himself when he pulled up, holding his left groin in the second set.
Third seed Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, reached the last 32 for the 10th time with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.
Wawrinka will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini for a place in the fourth round.
Japanese eighth seed Kei Nishikori routed France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) and set up a rare all-Asian clash with South Korean Hyeon Chung.
Chung, the 21-year-old world number 67, followed up his first round win over US 27th seed Sam Querrey with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-1 victory against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Nick Kyrgios’s Australian Open ended in a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 loss to big-serving Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
Anderson, ranked at 56 in the world, made the most of the 18th-seeded Australian’s 42 unforced errors to progress.
Unseeded 21-year-old Karen Khachanov of Russia continued his impressive debut, beating Czech 13th seed Tomas Berdych, a semi-finalist seven years ago, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
In the women’s event, Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova and third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, both firm women’s title favourites after the first round exit of world number one Angelique Kerber, went through.