PARIS • Juan Martin del Potro set up a French Open blockbuster against Andy Murray yesterday after a heartfelt display of compassion towards a stricken rival.
The Argentinian tennis player, no stranger to injury after a career-long battle with wrist problems, entered the third round after Spanish opponent Nicolas Almagro quit in tears during the third set of their match with a left-knee injury.
In a moving conclusion, del Potro sat next to the sobbing Almagro, offering him water while patting the 31-year-old's head.
Del Potro had also gone to Almagro's aid when the Spaniard had collapsed at the back of the court, weeping, just moments earlier.
The 28-year-old had taken the first set of the second-round clash 6-3 before Almagro, ranked 69th in the world, 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 leg in the second set.
Men's 2nd rd: Andy Murray (Gbr) bt Martin Klizan (Svk) 6-7 (7-3) 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-3), Stan Wawrinka (Sui) bt Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukr) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 7-5, Karen Khachanov (Rus) bt Tomas Berdych (Cze) 7-5 6-4 6-4, Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Jeremy Chardy (Fra) 6-3 6-0 7-6 (7-5), Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt David Ferrer (Esp) 7-5 3-6 7-5 4-6 6-4, Juan Martin del Potro (Arg) bt Nicolas Almagro (Esp) 6-3 3-6 1-1 ret, John Isner (USA) bt Paolo Lorenzi (Ita) 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2), Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Konstantin Kravchuk (Rus) 6-3 6-2 6-2.
Women's 2nd rd: Elena Vesnina (Rus) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-0, Anastasija Sevastova (Lat) bt Eugenie Bouchard (Can) 6-3 6-0, Hsieh Su-wei (Taiwan) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-0 2-6 6-3, Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) bt Alison van Uytvanck (Bel) 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-3, Alize Cornet (Fra) bt Barbora Strycova (Cze) 6-4 6-1, Elina Svitolina (Ukr) bt Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul) 3-6 6-3 6-2, Magda Linette (Pol) bt Ana Konjuh (Cro) 6-0 7-5.
"It's not easy for me when you have a friend on the other side of the court showing an injury or crying. It was really a bad moment, but I wish all the best to him," he said.
The former US Open champion will now face world No. 1 Murray, who beat Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), for a place in the last 16.
World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka came out on top in his slugfest with Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov to win 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 and move into the third round.
The 2015 French Open champion, who has yet to drop a set this time, may have won in three sets but it was tougher than it looked with Dolgopolov, a former top-20 player, giving him a hard time.
They broke each other once early in the first set as both players aggressively looked for quick winners.
But the 32-year-old Wawrinka squeezed in another break to snatch the first set with a fierce backhand down the line.
The pair traded blows in a finely balanced second set before taking it into a tie-break, with Wawrinka again emerging victorious.
It was a similar story in the third set with both players pummelling each other until Wawrinka broke Dolgopolov a second time to clinch victory.
Japan's Kei Nishikori survived an injury scare and Jeremy Chardy's late revival to advance into the third round with a 6-3, 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) victory.
The eighth seed had to call on the trainer to have his chest massaged early in the third set. But he dug in to ensure he did not have to stay on court longer than necessary, wrapping up the win with a backhand winner.
In the women's competition, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat tenacious Belgian qualifier Alison van Uytvanck 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.
The world No. 10 will now face local favourite Alize Cornet, who downed Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-1.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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