French Open 2016, Day 4: Andy Murray survives fresh five-set Paris battle

Three time semi-finalist Murray wore down Mathias Bourgue, and won the match 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

AFP| Last Updated: May 26, 2016, 00:17 AM IST
French Open 2016, Day 4: Andy Murray survives fresh five-set Paris battle

Paris: Second seed Andy Murray survived his second successive five-set French Open battle to reach the third round Wednesday, avoiding what would have been his worst Grand Slam loss in eight years.

Murray, three times a semi-finalist, wore down France`s world number 164 Mathias Bourgue, who had never won a tour-level match before this week, 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and goes on to face 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic for a place in the last 16.

After coming back from two sets to love down to beat Radek Stepanek, also 37, in the first round in a tie played over two days, the British star had looked down and out once again on Wednesday.

After pocketing the third set, 22-year-old Bourgue, reduced to tears by the end, had break points for a 1-0 lead in the fourth.

But once they were squandered, the Frenchman`s challenge quickly wilted as the physically stronger Murray raced away with 12 of the last 15 games.

"He was excellent today. He dictated the points and made me run. He`s going to have a fantastic future," said Murray after escaping what would have been his worst loss at the majors since a first round exit at the 2008 Australian Open.

"At the end of the third set, I just thought `what happened?`. I was 6-2, 2-0 ahead. He was then unbelievable and I found it hard just to win points.

"But I have played these matches many times. I just tried to fight through."

As an indication of his struggles, Wednesday was the first time since the US Open in 2005 that Murray had played two successive five-set matches at the Slams.

Bourgue was seen nibbling a Twix chocolate bar during the match to boost his energy -- having asked originally for a Mars.

"(French player) Gilles Simon told me if you feel tired, take one Coke and one Mars bar, so that`s what I wanted to do," he said.

Karlovic, the 27th seed, defeated Australian wildcard Jordan Thompson 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (4/7), 12-10, unleashing 41 aces and 102 winners.

Karlovic is the oldest man in the French Open third round since 38-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1991.

Defending champion and third seed Stan Wawrinka defeated New York-born Taro Daniel of Japan 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-4 and goes on to face France`s Jeremy Chardy.

Japan`s fifth seed Kei Nishikori, a quarter-finalist in 2015, coasted into the last 32 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Russia`s Andrey Kuznetsov.

Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, goes on to face former world number seven Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

Eighth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic had few problems with Adrian Mannarino of France, winning 6-1, 7-6 (7/0), 6-1.

Australian 17th seed Nick Kyrgios needed just 70 minutes to beat Dutch lucky loser Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.He will now meet French ninth seed Richard Gasquet who defeated fellow former boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo of the United States 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Gasquet and Kyrgios have met at the last two Wimbledons with the Australian saving nine match points in 2014 before losing a controversial rematch last year when he was accused of `tanking` a game.

In the women`s event, second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a quarter-finalist in 2013, beat Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the Strasbourg champion last weekend, 6-2, 6-4.

Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza defeated French wildcard Myrtille Georges 6-2, 6-0 and next tackles Belgium`s Yanina Wickmayer.

Sixth seed Simona Halep, the losing finalist to Maria Sharapova in 2014, came back from 4-1 down in the first set to beat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

Halep, 24, will next face Japan`s Naomi Osaka, the world 101 who has reached the third round at a major for the second successive time having also enjoyed a run to the last 32 in Australia.

Osaka, 18, knocked out 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-3 which would have been a relief to Halep who lost to the world number 52 Croatian at the French Open last year and US Open in 2014.

Petra Kvitova, the 10th seed, saw off Taiwan`s Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 6-1 in a much more comfortable outing than her opener against Danka Kovinic where she had been just two points away from defeat.

Kvitova, a semi-finalist in 2012, next faces Shelby Rogers of the United States.

Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, was too strong for Britain`s Heather Watson winning 6-1, 6-3.

Kuznetsova will now face Fed Cup teammate Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who saw off Cagla Buyukakcay, the first Turkish woman to win a match at a Grand Slam, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.