Murray, a three-time semi-finalist, had needed two five-set matches and three days of play to get to the last 32. But on Friday the 29-year-old needed just a shade under two hours to beat 6ft 11in (2.11m) Karlovic 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3). It was his seventh win in seven matches against the 37-year-old as Murray goes on to face either John Isner of the United States or Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
“Especially at the end it was very close. I got off to a quick start and against someone like Ivo that’s very important,” said Murray.
“I was glad to win that tiebreak at the end.” Canada’s eighth seed Milos Raonic overcame a left hip injury to defeat Slovakian lucky loser Andrej Martin, the world number 133, and reach the last 16 for a second time.
Raonic won 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-3 but only after requiring a medical timeout at the start of the third set to treat a hip injury. The Canadian, plagued by a similar injury after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals in January, then needed to take a pain-killer before racing away to victory.
“At one point it felt like I had trouble bringing my hip back around when I would sprint forward when my left leg was behind me. And then it sort of went the other way,” said Raonic.
“The trainer was able to assure me that from what he could tell there was nothing serious.” Raonic, a quarter-finalist in 2014, next faces 55th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas after the Spaniard stunned American 23rd seed Jack Sock 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Ramos-Vinolas, 28, had not won a match at Roland Garros since 2011 before this year. Spanish fourth seed and last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza won the last nine games to knock out Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-0.
Nadal withdraws from French Open with wrist injury
Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the French Open with a left wrist injury on Friday, but insisted the heartbreaking setback did not mean the end of his career.
“It’s not broken, but if I continue to play it will be broken in a few days,” said an emotional Nadal, the fourth seed.
“This is a very bad position, but that’s life. If this was not Roland Garros I probably would not have
taken the risk of playing in the first couple of days.”
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam title winner, has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, affecting his knees and wrist.
A right wrist injury forced him to skip the 2014 US Open. Despite his latest setback, the charismatic Spaniard said he will keep playing although his participation at Wimbledon next month is now in serious doubt. “Nine times in my career I have been able to be healthy here in Paris and win this tournament,” he said.