PARIS (Reuters) - The magic that makes a grand slam champion is coming together for Britain’s Andy Murray at just the right time, former world number one Mats Wilander told Reuters on Saturday.
Murray swept aside towering Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 7-5 6-0 in the French Open third round, and Wilander saw something of a gear change in the top seed who had been struggling.
”I think it is coming,“ the Swede said in an interview at Roland Garros. ”It is coming at the right time for us, and at the right time for him.
”Andy is the sort of guy who thrives on the challenge of man-to-man, he likes to feel his way.
”It is the fight when he is level that he loves, and we saw that today, how he really upped his game in that tiebreak.
”I mean he didn’t really hit any normal shots in the tiebreak, couple of dropshots, some serve-and-volleying, but that is what the greats are like.
“It is a feeling, a sense for knowing what to do. I mean sometimes it means you hit the dumbest shots ever, but that instinct is what makes the greats, and we saw that in Andy today.”
With Rafa Nadal seemingly in impenetrable form, marching towards a 10th French Open title, Murray’s uptick in fortunes may not be enough to win the crown here, but it all bodes well for Wimbledon, Wilander said.
”It is good for what comes next, it is all positive - only positive. He now has great momentum going.
”Just the way he is playing is positive. We saw in the last round against Martin Klizan he lost the first set and so changed something and won.
“Today he won that tight set and then his opponent basically gave the match to him.”
Demoralised by losing the opener on a disputed line call, Del Potro stood at the net, bent at the waist, his head resting on the netcord. There the Argentine stayed until the umpire called time about three minutes later.
”You can’t do that,“ Wilander said. ”He basically handed him the match.
“But still, Murray fought well in the second - it often isn’t how you are hitting the ball, it is the quality of your fight - and then in the third he thought, OK you try to stay with me now... I am world number one, you come with me.”
Coming into the French Open Murray had lost seven of his 23 tour matches in 2017 - hardly the form of a world number one.
But Wilander was not surprised.
””It happens to the best,“ he said. ”They can have off-days, it just happens.
”And the reasons are so complicated because these players are complicated. It is classic grand slam champion stuff. It is so complex.
“It is not about training, that is just the basics. It is about feeling it with your heart and knowing what to do and when, and that is why it is complex. But we saw Andy do that today. It is coming.”
Editing by Ed Osmond