Andy Murray has qualified for the next round of the French open after coming from two sets down to defeat Radek Stepanek 3-6 3-6 6-0 6-3 7-5.
The Czech, the oldest man in the draw at 37, refused to be brushed aside by the British No 1 and was just two points from victory while Murray served at 5-4 in the final set.The World No 2 had trailed by two-sets-to-one when fading light forced the players off on Monday evening, and after collecting a break to level the match, Murray still had to dig deep for a a 3-6 3-6 6-0 6-3 7-5 victory.Murray’s position had looked perilous when he trailed by two sets in gloomy conditions, but the Scot had started his recovery and held a break at 4-2 up in the fourth set when play resumed on Tuesday. then broke Stepanek decisively before the veteran limply netted a volley in a tame ending to an enthralling match.A second-round match with Frenchman Mathias Bourgue comes next for Murray, who reached the semi-finals of last year’s tournament.
Murray was full of praise for his beaten opponent and expressed his relief after avoiding a early exit from Roland Garros.”It’s unbelievable what he’s doing,” said Murray. “He had an extremely bad injury last year and still at 37 coming out and fighting like that, playing that way, it’s unbelievable. I don’t expect to be doing that myself at that age.”I’m just glad I managed to get through. He’s always been extremely difficult to play. I wasn’t able to dictate many of the points, I wasn’t in a great rhythm, and that’s credit to him and the way that he played. “I fought extremely hard today and I’ll get a chance to play again tomorrow.”
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Rafael Nadal though eased through to the next round, dispatching Australian opponent Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.Nadal looked typically at home on the clay at Roland Garros, hitting an astonishing winner through his legs in the third set.Nadal will face either Facundo Bagnis or Kenny De Schepper in the second round after taking his career French Open record to 71 wins and two losses.