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Murray ready for tough Del Potro encounter

Press Association logoPress Association 2/06/2017 Eleanor Crooks

One of the most compelling rivalries of 2016 will be renewed in the third round of the French Open when Andy Murray takes on Juan Martin Del Potro.

The pair only met twice last year but they were two matches that will live long in the memory.

First they played each other virtually to a standstill in a pulsating battle for Olympic gold in Rio.

Murray came out on top of that one to claim his second successive Olympic title but Del Potro got his revenge when they clashed again in the Davis Cup semi-finals a month later.

This time they played for five hours and seven minutes, the longest match of Murray's career, and it was Del Potro who prevailed to hand the Scot his first home singles loss in Davis Cup.

"That was obviously a brutal match we played in Rio, but also one of the most memorable that I'll have in my career regardless of what happens in the final few years of my tennis," Murray said.

"It's a tough match, not an easy third round. He's, in my opinion, one of the best players in the world when he's fit and healthy.

"This year he's had a lot of tough draws. If you look at the matches that he's lost, he's played Novak a few times. He lost to Raonic in Delray Beach, Miami I think he lost to Roger.

"So because of the ranking that he has, he's in that bracket where he's met a lot of the top guys early on."

Del Potro has played a light schedule as he focuses on looking after his body but he was a doubt for the tournament because of back and shoulder injuries and struggled with a groin problem on Thursday.

Indeed, Del Potro might have been in trouble had opponent Nicolas Almagro not retired in tears with a knee injury at one set all, but he is optimistic he will be fit to face Murray.

"I will have two days in order to rest and recover," he said. "It's not new. Last year I had some problems with my groin. It's not a source of concern."

He is looking forward to another crack at the world No.1.

"We played great battles last year, one each," said Del Potro. "It could be another great battle if I feel good."

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