Friday 24 October 2014

Andy Murray survives marathon battle with Philipp Kohlschreiber in Roland Garros

Eleanor Crooks

Published 01/06/2014 | 13:45

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 01:  Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts during his men's singles match against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany on day eight of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Andy Murray reacts during his men's singles match against Philipp Kohlschreiber

Andy Murray survived his fifth-set shoot-out with Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the fourth round of the French Open.

The Wimbledon champion returned to Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday afternoon locked at 7-7 after darkness had intervened on Saturday evening.

They played a further 40 minutes of tense, competitive tennis before Murray finally clinched a 3-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 12-10 victory and a date with Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

The Scot revealed he had only been able to sleep for five hours, saying: "Last night was extremely tough. I did a lot of running, I was up a break in every set.

"Considering the circumstances I think we both played some good points. We were both pretty nervous. I didn't sleep much. I kept waking up. I was ready to play at 4 or 5 in the morning. It's not easy coming back at 7-7 in the fifth set."

The immediate pressure was on Murray as the man serving first.

It was new territory for the Wimbledon champion, who had never been past 6-6 in a non-tie-break set before, while there were many indications on Friday that not all was well physically.

Murray seemed to be troubled by his left hamstring, pulling up alarmingly at one point, and called the trainer in the fifth set to have both thighs massaged.

He seemed to be moving fine on the resumption, though, and overcame the first hurdle by holding serve relatively comfortably.

One of Murray's problems in the match had been a poor first-serve percentage, and it was the same again.

Kohlschreiber came through his first service game well but in the second Murray applied pressure and brought up his first match point with a forehand winner.

The German stayed cool, though, and finished the point off with a solid smash.

He had a chance with a break point in the next game but Murray found three first serves just when he needed them to get out of trouble.

That was not the norm, though, and he would have been in major trouble serving at 10-10 had a forehand at 15-30 not hit the net and dropped over.

He survived despite making only two of seven first serves, and in the next game had two more match points.

He took the first with a backhand return winner, crouching down and roaring in delight.

The three hours and 27 minutes of tennis that the pair played on Friday evening had featured all manner of twists and turns.

But after 17 breaks of serve, 73 winners and 61 unforced errors from Murray, nothing could separate them.

Kohlschreiber, who won a title on clay in Dusseldorf last weekend, exploited Murray's sluggish movement to fight back from 3-1 down in the first set.

The Scot dug in and won the next two sets and for much of the fourth it seemed victory was not far away.

Murray led 4-2 and 30-0 but served two double faults, was broken twice in succession and 28th seed Kohlschreiber levelled the match.

The final stages in failing light offered opportunities for both men.

Kohlschreiber had a break point at 6-6 but Murray kept his cool to guide a backhand winner down the line.

At 7-6 and deuce it was the seventh seed who was pushing for victory, and he would have brought up match point had he planted a backhand into the corner instead of beyond the baseline.

Murray will expect another lengthy battle against Verdasco, against whom he fought back from two sets down to beat in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.

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