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10 June 2017, 07:05 | Susie Olson
While Murray won that affair too - and their only previous Grand Slam meeting - del Potro had triumphed in their most recent clash, so the Scot was alert to the dangers.
"Then he forced me to play backhand first, and then he sliced me".
Del Potro had four set points in the opening set but lost each one, including that key double-fault while ahead 7-6 in the tiebreaker.
The ATP is holding an end-of- season Next Gen tournament for the first time in November as a showcase for the best eight players aged under 21. I didn't come here with the mindset that I'm definitely going to go a long way. "It was tough because he was playing much better than me in the first set".
Losing that set on a disputed line call cut the 28-year-old del Potro deep. But Del Potro avenged that defeat as he rallied from behind to overcome Murray in five sets in last year's Davis Cup semi-finals, with Argentina going on to secure their maiden title.
He had two set points at 5-3 before Murray clawed it back level by converting his sixth break point.
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Murray broke right away to begin the second and although the 2016 runner-up gave it back at 5-4, he eventually took the set 7-5.
Nishikori, who has won just two of 10 matches against Murray, added with a smile: "I mean, always, you know, when we play, it's always a battle".
Del Potro's will was broken after that as he lost all six games in the third set to hand Murray a 7-6 (8), 7-5, 6-0 victory.
Murray needed almost 3 hours to get past the 29th-seeded del Potro at Court Philippe Chatrier under a cloud-filled sky. The conditions today were very slow and heavy, so coming from behind in those conditions can be difficult, because it feels like you have to work very hard for every point.
In a moment he may well rue, del Potro double-faulted off the tape bouncing his Wilson racket off the side of his head in frustration.
Asked how he felt about the fans' response to his forehands, del Potro joked: "I like (it) a lot".
Murray was not, and he smiled mischievously as he described del Potro's "very manly grunt".
A depleted del Potro, who took treatment for a groin injury in his second-round win over Nicolas Almagro after dealing with shoulder and back issues in Lyon last week, was physically and emotionally spent as Murray rolled through the third set at love.
Isner was the last US man in the draw of 11 who entered the tournament.
Pablo Cuevas, who was bidding to become the first Uruguayan to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam in 18 years, was comfortably beaten 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 by Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
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