Andy Murray faces Andrey Kuznetsov tomorrow
By his own admission, the world No 1 is nowhere near the form he would like to be in ahead of a grand slam event, with illness and a crisis of confidence, almost, affecting his clay-court season thus far.
Last year, Murray dispatched the world No 73 both in Beijing and at the US Open but Kuznetsov is aware that his opponent is in a very different place ahead of this meeting.
“Is there a feeling that he is vulnerable? If you maybe see the results he showed on clay, maybe it’s not his best as he showed last year,” Kuznetsov said.
“A few guys like Borna Coric, for example, beat him in Madrid. It shows that it’s possible to beat him.
“Of course, I understand that the big guys are preparing for the big tournaments to play good here, so maybe it was part of the plan. But also in the first rounds of the big tournaments, maybe also they need some time to find rhythm and so on.
“It will be important to start good. If he starts a little bit nervy and shaky and I start with confidence, maybe I can win one set and take a lead in the second.
Sir Andy Murray's greatest moments Wed, January 18, 2017
Express Sport takes a look at some of the greatest moments in Sir Andy Murray’s career so far
Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 6
Express Sport brings you five of Sir Andy Murray’s greatest moments
If you maybe see the results he showed on clay, maybe it’s not his best as he showed last year
“You cannot be on top, all our career. Sooner or later, it goes up and down, up and down. He had a very good end of last year. This year maybe not as good as he wanted.”
Last week Murray revealed there have been days when he has been so ill he has not been able to get out of bed and Kuznetsov is quite happy to claim any advantage that comes his way.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
“Everybody always has something – that’s professional sport. I’m sure that he will compete tomorrow like 100 per cent. But if in the middle of the match, he will retire, I will just be happy.”
There were no such mishaps for two of the favourites for the competition, who both seemed in a rush to get through to the second round.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic was first on court, and was well on his way to beating Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 when Rafa Nadal opened his campaign 55 minutes later.
The Spaniard was only 15 minutes behind him though after his own impressive 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over local favourite Benoit Paire which did nothing to dissuade the bookmakers from making him their odds-on favourite.
The clock ticking loudest for Djokovic is the one dictating how long his new coach Andre Agassi can stay with him.
The former world No 1 was in the Court Philippe Chatrier stands but there is some doubt about how long he can commit for.
“Well, he’s going to stay till the end,” Djokovic ventured. “Well, I hope till the end of this week. Then he has to leave, because he has some scheduled already things that he cannot reschedule. So that’s all.
“I’m going to try to use the time spent with him as best as I can, as best as we can. This is exactly what I need at this moment.”