ROME (Reuters) - Andy Murray is more afraid of losing his wedding ring than a tennis match these days but that did not stop him from storming to a 10th successive win on clay at the Rome Masters on Wednesday.
Fresh from winning back-to-back titles in Munich and Madrid, Murray was once seen sporting his wedding ring tied around his shoelaces as he beat France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3.
“I won’t lose it if it’s tied to my shoelace,” Murray told Sky Sport Italia. “As soon as the match is over I put it back on.
“If I’d keep it in my bag I’d have lost it already.
Murray, who married Kim Sears last month, faced two break points in the sixth game of the opening set as Chardy tried to create another early upset after knocking out Roger Federer in the same round here 12 months ago.
But Murray held on to breeze through the rest of the match by outfoxing Chardy with his touch, powerful serve and backhand dropshots.
“I felt a little tired at the start but my condition got better as the match went on,” added Murray, who had never won a claycourt title until his recent golden run.
“I’m a little surprised with my clay results. I hope to keep it up (my form) until Roland Garros.”
Murray will play Belgian David Goffin in the next round, after he saved three match points against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before coming through 6-2 4-6 7-5.
Second seed Federer did not face a single break point in a comfortable 7-6(3) 6-4 victory over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas and will now play giant South African Kevin Anderson in
the third round.
Seven-time Rome champion Rafa Nadal, who is still searching for his best form this season, swatted aside Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan 6-2 6-0.
That set up a third-round clash against big-serving American John Isner, who progressed following a 7-6(6) 6-4 win against Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Nadal said. “I hope to continue progressing.”
In the women’s event, former world number one Victoria Azarenka had trouble closing out the match against fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki and needed five match points before edging past the Dane for the third time this year 6-2 7-6(2).
Second seed Simona Halep crushed American Alison Riske 6-3 6-0, while seventh seed Ana Ivanovic fell to Russia’s Daria Gavrilova after a three-hour battle.
The former French Open champion saved seven match points but eventually fell 5-7 7-6(2) 7-6(7).
Reporting Jacopo Lo Monaco, Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis