Paris: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was locked in a fifth-set fight for survival against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round of the French Open on Saturday when play was suspended due to bad light.
Kohlschreiber won his last service game, as the sun dipped below the Paris horizon, to leave the fifth set at 7-7. The match will be finished on Sunday on the same Suzanne Lenglen court.
After losing the first set, the British seventh seed appeared to be cruising to victory in the fourth set when he led 4-2. But suddenly Murray’s touch deserted him and the German took full advantage to take the match into a pulsating fifth set.
The winner will play either Fernando Verdasco of Spain, the 24th seed, or Richard Gasquet of France (12th) in the last 16. Verdasco was leading by two sets to love when their match was suspended late on Saturday.
After losing the first set, Murray took a set-winning 3-0 lead in the second. He broke the German in the fifth game of the third set, then wasted three set points before taking the lead in the match with a superb backhand down the line.
Murray appeared in total control after six games of the fourth but gave back his break of serve, and Kohlschreiber, seeded 28th, took advantage of more slack play from his opponent to break for 5-4 and win the set.
Again in the final set, Murray, who had courtside treatment on an unspecified thigh problem as the match approached its climax, broke early. But he allowed his opponent to break back, and then take a 3-2 lead with another break.
Murray came back to 3-3 with a fine backhand cross-court winner, setting the scene for a series of heart-stopping games in fading light as Kohlschreiber tried to take advantage of any problems with Murray’s mobility by moving him around the court.
Murray’s ability to mix the sublime with the ordinary was demonstrated when he served at 6-6. A double fault was followed by an ace before a driving backhand pass by his German opponent set up a break point.
But Murray replied with his own scintillating backhand winner before clinching the game with a fine drop shot. Kohlschreiber then held his serve after Murray netted a forehand to send the match into a second day.