On day five of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Andy Murray fought back to beat Benoit Paire in a three-set thriller in two hours and 32 minutes. Both players held their chances to grab the victory, but it was the Brit who handled the pressure better in the late stages.
Paire Dictates First Set
Andy Murray and Benoit Paire faced off for the first time in a tour level event, as their only previous meeting was in Hopman Cup. Early match proceedings indicated a possible departure for the number two seed. The Frenchman was the first to grab a break advantage as he took it in the third game. Paire stayed confident and comfortable on return to earn the double-break and a 4-1 lead. Benoit Paire was in utter control through the opening stages of the match.
The sixteenth seed saved a break point en route to his 5-1 advantage. The Brit did not put away his first set hopes as he held to love. But the penetrating ground strokes and finesse of the Frenchman sealed the set in 29 minutes.
Murray Defies Deficit
The second set began and it seemed as if Andy Murray would be leaving the tournament early. Benoit Paire quickly raced to, yet, another, double-break lead. As he served with a set and three love lead, the pressure to close out the match in smooth fashion seemed too much for the Frenchman as his British opposition broke back. Despite the sixteenth seed having a chance to take a 5-2 initiative, the match remained on serve until Paire stepped to the line to serve at 4-3 where Murray leveled terms with a crucial break.
The set was suddenly on even terms at four games apiece. The players exchanged holds until the Brit was able to apply pressure to his French opponent. Paire served to stay in the second set, but he squandered his 40-love by losing five straight points. The second set was concluded in just under an hour after a Paire backhand went astray.
Brit Seals Thrilling Comeback
The decisive third set saw eight straight holds to put both players within two games of the quarterfinals. An abundance of break points failed to be converted as the competition's stakes brought out the best and the worst in the players. The Frenchman was the first to strike when he converted his first break point of the set after six previous tries.
At 5-4, Benoit Paire vaulted himself to a 30-15 advantage, putting him within two points to seal the match. But the finesse shots from Murray brought the game to level terms. An eventual French double fault handed the game to Murray and kept the Brit's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters' tournament campaign alive. The sixteenth seed held a chance to get the break back but the consistency of the Brit and an incorrect challenge from Paire ultimately decided the game in Murray's favor. The world number two, Andy Murray, pulled off an astonishing comeback after Benoit Paire hit his seventh double fault of the match.
Second Seed’s Quarterfinal Clash
Andy Murray will take Court Rainier II tomorrow against Milos Raonic. The quarterfinal clash will embark as the pairs eighth career meeting, with the Brit edging the Canadian four wins to three. The recent form of Raonic will challenge Murray's crafty game. But the Brit's return will challenge the Canadian's serve, making this matchup a must watch encounter.