Murray Completes Stepanek Comeback
Scot prevails from two sets down
After being one set from defeat when play was suspended due to darkness on Monday night, second seed Andy Murray completed the comeback over qualifier Radek Stepanek on Tuesday, defeating the Czech veteran 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.
It is the ninth time in his career that Murray has completed a comeback from two sets down, and the third time he has done so at Roland Garros, having also fought past Richard Gasquet in the 2010 first round and Viktor Troicki in the 2011 fourth round.
(Most Wins From Two-Sets Down in Open Era)
"It's unbelievable what he's doing," said Murray in his on-court interview with Cedric Pioline. "He had an extremely bad injury last year and was our for eight or nine months. At 37 years old and coming out and fighting like that, playing that way, is unbelievable. I don't expect to be doing that myself at that age! I'm just glad I managed to get through.
"He was serving very well and hardly missed any volleys, apart from the one on match point, which almost went over as well. 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 he played.
"Yesterday I had a bit of momentum when we stopped, but coming out today anything could happen. Both of us had chances in the fifth set and thankfully I managed to grab mine at the end when he made a couple of mistakes. I fought extremely hard today and I get the chance to play again tomorrow."
Play was suspended with Murray well on the way with his comeback on Monday evening. After dropping the first two sets, the Scot had upped his intensity and added extra power to his groundstrokes as he reeled off nine straight games to fight his way back into contention.
The pair returned to Court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday with Murray leading 4-2 in the fourth set. The Scot saved two break points in the opening game, holding for a 5-2 lead, before going to on to clinch the set and force a decider.
Stepanek saved break points in the first and fifth games of the fifth set as Murray struggled to break down the 37-year-old Czech, who continued to frustrate Murray as he had done in the first two sets. Stepanek was two points from victory twice in the 10th game, with Murray serving at 4-5, but the Scot held on and immediately broke Stepanek in the next game as the Czech hit a forehand in the net. Murray double faulted on his first match point, but made no mistake on his second opportunity as Stepanek volleyed into the net.
"It's never easy playing a match over two days," said Murray. "Especially when it ended up being just a one-set shoot-out really in the end, with him always ahead and starting serving. I was having chances and not getting them. Then I was always having to play from behind. So it was very tough.
"I was actually starting to play quite well [last night], and then I have to come out the next day again and do it against a very tough opponent who has a very unorthodox game. Makes it very tricky. It was not easy at all."
The 29-year-old Murray came into Roland Garros on the back of his third ATP World Tour clay-court title in Rome, where he defeated Novak Djokovic in the final. The Dunblane native has reached the semi-finals in Paris the past two years.
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych claimed his first win in three meetings with Vasek Pospisil as he dismissed the Canadian 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. The Czech converted eight of his 13 break points and struck 27 winners to just 15 unforced errors.
The 30-year-old Berdych returned to top form in style as he played his first match since suffering the first double bagel of his career against David Goffin in the Rome second round two weeks ago. The Czech has since parted company with coach, Dani Vallverdu.
Berdych enjoyed his best result at Roland Garros six years ago, when he reached the semi-finals (l. to Soderling). The right-hander goes on to face Malez Jaziri, who defeated Florian Mayer 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
In a first-round clash between two of the ATP World Tour’s #NextGen stars, Borna Coric was too good for Taylor Fritz, beating the American 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The 19-year-old Croat reached the third round at Roland Garros on his debut last year, falling to Jack Sock. Coric next will meet 20th seed Bernard Tomic after the 23-year-old Australian defeated Brian Baker 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
"I knew he played well here before and it was going to be tough," said Tomic of his win over Baker, who is making his comeback on the ATP World Tour this year after being sidelined since the 2013 US Open. "He doesn't give me rhythm. He's attacking a lot.
"For me I knew I had to be on my game and play well. I was happy, very happy. There were times I just didn't feel comfortable on court. I was happy with the win today for sure."