Earlier this month, Radek Stepanek gave Andy Murray all that he could handle in the early rounds of the Mutua Madrid Open. It was no different this time at the French Open with Stepanek taking the opening two sets before Murray was forced to complete the comeback over two days due to darkness and rain pushing the start of this match back. The Brit took this match 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.
Stepanek Stuns Murray in Opening Set
The Czech continued with his gameplan from Madrid by trying to make Murray go for more because of his consistency. The oldest man in the draw went against any logic in his attack of Murray as kept to continue to pound away at the Scot’s backhand. It worked wonders oddly with the Czech winning those points. He got the break early on to move up 2-1.
Stepanek continued to be a nuisance to Murray with his consistency from the back of the court, but the Brit’s errors were not helping his cause. An unforced error on a routine ball which he would normally put away for a winner or to put his opponent in a defensive position. He netted it to give the Czech the opening set.
Murray Breaks Early but Stepanek Steals Set Two
With a new shirt, Andy Murray looked like rejuvenated man. A forehand passing shot winner down the line gave him 0-40 and broke soon after. However, the oldest man in the tournament would not go down easily. He broke right back at 15 to put the pressure back on Murray. The two men would hold serve until the Brit was broken at 3-4. Stepanek continued to drop shot the “King of Drop Shots” and was winning that battle. He served out to take the second set with no problems.
Murray Delivers a Bagel, Leads Set Four Before Play Called
Down in a hole, the Brit needed to dig up something big to overcome the two set deficit. Murray began to find his rhythm from the back of the court. That and a number of errors from Stepanek were raised. The Scot put the hammer down in the third set quickly enough to get play to continue for a fourth on Chatrier.
Murray continued to fire away, breaking once again early in the fourth set, making it nine games on the bounce before Stepanek could get back on the board. Play stopped due to darkness with Murray up 4-2 in the fourth.
Murray Takes Fourth, Followed by the Match
Play resumed on Day Three with Murray second on Chatrier, up 4-2. Both men held serve to start which left Murray to hold for the set. On his second set point, he clinched the fourth set on a netted return from Stepanek, who knew he should’ve done better with the return.
Murray had an early sniff at a break but Stepanek held for 1-0. Both players continued to hold, but Murray had no problems whatsoever while Stepanek had to grind out a few games. Serving to stay in the match, Murray was only two points away from the upset but recovered and subsequently broke the Czech. It took him two tries, but he took the match in five sets.