Andy Murray spent some time flat on his back in his second-round match. Today, a revitalized Murray flattened Santiago Giraldo in producing perhaps his most complete clay-court victory of the season.
In a strong serving effort that saw him hit nine aces and serve 70 percent, Murray erased the only break point he faced in dusting the 50th-ranked Colombian in the Bullring, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the fourth round of Roland Garros.
It was a striking reversal from Murray's second-round win over Jarkko Nieminen, when he took treatment for back spasms that had the hobbled Scot contemplating retirement. A much fresher and fitter Murray showed no signs of the injury in playing largely stress-free tennis from the outset.
Back pain slowed his serve in round two; today his serve was the back-breaker for Giraldo: Murray served bigger and bolder to set the tone for the match. An angled drop volley winner gave Murray break point in the first set, and he broke for a 4-2 lead when Giraldo's sometimes unruly backhand found the net. Murray delivered three consecutive love service holds in wrapping up the 28-minute opener.
Emboldened by a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of Giraldo in their lone prior meeting in Barcelona last month, Murray played with outward confidence. Giraldo is solid in all areas of the game and began belting the high ball to Murray forehand with increasing authority as the match progressed, but lacked a truly imposing weapon. Little was troubling Murray on this day.
Sick of seeing Murray commanding rallies, Giraldo tried to take the first strike, but missed a forehand down the line to face break point, then netted a flat forehand to hand over the break and a 3-2 second-set lead. Murray then crunched a running forehand cross-court to consolidate. Serving for the set, things got dicey when Giraldo smacked a screaming forehand winner down the line to cap a 20-shot rally and earn break point. It's the type of shot that sometimes might make Murray shriek in frustration, or even punch his strings with the palm of his hand. On this day, he got right back to work, saving the break point with an angled backhand. When Giraldo netted a forehand return, Murray collected the 44-minute second set.
If he hadn't become a tennis player, Giraldo said he would have pursued a political career, but his baseline campaign gained no ground in the final set. Murray served 74 percent and won 20 of 23 points on his serve to close a clean out a clean sweep in two hours and two minutes.
The world No. 4, who has reached five straight major semifinals, will face either 17th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet—who beat Murray in Rome last month—or German qualifier Tommy Haas for a quarterfinal spot.