(Reuters) - World number one Andy Murray’s recent form of just four wins in eight claycourt matches is clear evidence that he can be beaten, the Briton’s French Open opponent Andrey Kuznetsov said ahead of their first round clash on Tuesday.
Murray has not progressed past the round of 16 in three of his last four tournaments on clay, suffering a third round loss to Croatian Borna Coric in Madrid and losing out to home favourite Fabio Fognini early in the Italian Open this month.
The 30-year-old is also recovering from an illness and Kuznetsov, who has previously lost to Murray twice in as many meetings, is hopeful he can make it third time lucky.
“If you maybe see the results he showed on clay, maybe it’s not his best as he showed last year,” Russian world number 73 Kuznetsov told British media.
“A few guys like (Borna) Coric, for example, beat him in Madrid. It shows that it’s possible to beat him. Also in the first rounds of the big tournaments, maybe they need some time to find rhythm and so on.”
Kuznetsov, 26, who lost in the semi-finals at last week’s Geneva Open, said a quick start would be key to defeating the three-times grand slam winner.
“Of course it will be important to start good. If it goes to a five-setter, there will be a few more chances for him to win because of the physical conditions,” Kuznetsov said.
”But if he starts a little bit nervy and shaky, and I start with confidence, maybe I can win one set and take a lead in the second.
“For me it’s a good experience to play against a world number one. If I win, I will be a hero. If I lose, nobody will be surprised. [There is] nothing to lose for me.”
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien