Andy Murray has the best chance he has ever had of winning the French Open this year, says the Scot’s former coach Mark Petchey.
Murray begins his pursuit of a first title in Roland Garros against Argentine qualifier Facundo Arguello today and the British No 1 arrives on the crest of a wave following his most successful build-up to the tournament.
After winning his first clay-court competition in Munich, Murray recorded his only ever victory on the red sand over Rafael Nadal in Madrid, with the Spaniard currently struggling to assert his usual dominance on his favourite surface.
Murray is seeded third in Paris, and while he could meet Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, Petchey believes the time is nigh for his former protegee.
“What with Nadal’s form and Andy’s recent results, you’d have to say this is the best chance Andy has ever had to win the French Open,” said Petchey, who coached Murray into the world’s top 50 and will be part of ITV’s coverage of the tournament.
“He’s been doing absolutely fantastically in the build-up, it’s been his best start on clay and obviously that will give him a huge amount of confidence.
“Beating Rafa on clay was a great win for him but more than that, it’s the manner of his performances as well.
“His second serve is as strong as we’ve ever seen it, his backhand down the line has been great and perhaps most importantly, he feels comfortable physically now as well.”
Since appointing Amelie Mauresmo, and more recently Jonas Bjorkman, to his coaching team, Murray has added more variety and aggression to his game.
The 27-year-old is using more drop-shots, attacking the net more often and adding greater weight to his second serve – adjustments Petchey believes have been integral to his results.
“You can’t just sit back and defend on clay,” Petchey said. “It looks like he’s going after people’s second serve more than he has done previously.
“That was a huge part of Jonas’ game and Andy has always had great returns.
“It seems on clay he’s trying to get on top of the point more quickly and that has been a huge contributing factor to the development of his game.
“In Madrid, Andy played a great match against Nadal because Rafa was playing well enough to beat him, you saw that in the semi-finals when he beat Berdych.
“That was a very credible win for Andy and it shows how well he’s playing, it will give him huge confidence.”
Roger Federer criticised French Open security after he was intercepted on court by a young spectator at the end of his first-round victory over Alejandro Falla.
A boy ran on court and made persistent attempts to take a photograph with the Swiss as he tried to leave the Philippe Chatrier court, before security finally intervened.
Federer cruised to a 6-3 6-3 6-4 win over Colombian Falla but the 17-time grand slam champion was angry about the incident, saying it was not the first time it had happened at the tournament.
“I’m not happy about it, obviously not for one second am I happy about it,” Federer said. “It happened yesterday in the practice, too. It’s just a kid, but then three more kids came.
“Normally I only speak on behalf of myself, but in this situation I think I can speak on behalf of all the players, that where you do your job, that’s where you want to feel safe.”
The 33-year-old said he received a personal apology from Roland Garros tournament director Gilbert Ysern after his match against Falla, but insisted similar incidents cannot happen again.
Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka also made it through to the second round after a comfortable 6-3 6-2 6-3 win over Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan, while the surprise of the day came on Court 7, where 25th seed Ivo Karlovic lost to Cypriot veteran Marcos Baghdatis.
Croatia’s Karlovic served 21 aces but could not prevent a 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 6-4 defeat to Baghdatis, who is due to face Federer in round three.
Seeds Kei Nishikori, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Philipp Kohlschreiber are all safely through. British trio Andy Murray, Aljaz Bedene and Yorkshire’s Kyle Edmund play their opening matches today.
Third seed Simona Halep came through the first round unscathed as she beat Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 7-5 6-4.
Croatian teenager Donna Vekic claimed the first scalp of the round as she knocked out France’s 31st seed Caroline Garcia with a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory.
Russia’s ninth seed Ekaterina Makarova is also through after she overcame American Louisa Chirico 6-4 6-2, while last year’s conqueror of Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza, beat Croatia’s Petra Martic 6-2 7-5.
Seventh seed Ana Ivanovic had to come from a set down to beat Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-2 6-0 while 28th seed Flavia Pennetta was also taken to a decider by Poland’s Magda Linette before coming through 6-3 5-7 6-1.
Britain’s Heather Watson and Johanna Konta both play their first-round matches today.