Andy Murray has advanced to the next round of the Madrid open after defeating World number 148, Radek Stepanek 7-7,3-6, 6-1 in a match which lasted for over two and a half hours.
Stepanek, a former world No 8, had to qualify to make this week’s main draw, in which he began with a three-set victory over Vasek Pospisil. An old-fashioned net-rusher who hits some of the best volleys in the game, Stepanek can still move smartly around the court.Nevertheless the Czech had lost 17 of his previous 18 matches against top 10 opponents, his only victory having come against Murray in the third round of the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club two summers ago, which was their last meeting.Murray began slowly here, losing the first two games, but fought his way back into the opening set, which featured some excellent tennis from both men. When Murray served at 5-5 Stepanek netted a backhand on break point, a mistake which he was soon made to regret. In the tie-break Murray went 6-3 up with a superb lob before converting his first set point when Stepanek put a forehand wide.
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An hour’s good work had come to nothing for Stepanek, but the Czech responded superbly in the second set. Racing into the net at every opportunity, he quickly went 3-0 up and then served out for the set. Repeatedly attacking Murray’s second serves, Stepanek followed up his chip-and-charge strategy with some beautifully crafted volleys.Murray, nevertheless, quickly took control of the deciding set, breaking Stepanek at the first attempt. He was soon 5-0 up before Stepanek finally held serve. The Czech had break points in the following game before Murray secured his victory with an unreturned serve.
Andy Murray will now play the winner of the second-round meeting between Gilles Simon and Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round.