If Andy Murray wants to claim another clay-court title (this time at the surface's most famous tournament), he's going to need a little bit of a rest. He was involved in yet another long, strenuous, and grinding match at Roland Garros, this time with French qualifier Mathias Bourgue.
The match was somewhat similar to Murray's opening round match at the 2016 French Open. The top-ranked Briton managed to win the first set but was stunned when Bourgue stormed back to take the next two in impressive fashion. But the determined world number two would eventually prevail with a 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Exhausted but determined Murray charges ahead
The number one ranked British player was playing for the third consecutive day on Court Philippe Chatrier. Rain was a deterrent in Murray's first round match against Radek Stepanek. The match was suspended, forcing both players to return early to Philippe Chatrier the following day- a day that would typically be one of rest for the advancing player.
Like his previous match, Murray's match against the hometown favorite Bourgue went the distance. It did have some differences, however. Murray was able to post a very impressive opening set. He combined his quickness with an ever-increasing ability to slid and dig well into the clay, reaching every ball he received and returning them with gusto. The Scot's forehand was in peak form as he returned several forehand winners, flummoxing his French counterpart as he closed the set 6-2.
Trouble sets in
Perhaps having to play a third consecutive day had taken its toll on the battle-weary Murray. His weariness was a perfect compliment to the upset-minded Bourgue. The Frenchman gave the crowd of Parisian spectators a chance to get behind a hometown hero. He began the second set with eight straight game wins. Bourgue had won his very first ATP World Tour match at the hallowed ground of the French Open and he was thirsty for more.
The 22-year-old wild card entrant broke Murray twice on strong winners of his backhand. Hs second-set win electrified the crowd with his surprising quickness, feeding off an increasingly worrisome problem for Murray- his exhausted form.
Murray put himself in another big hole as dropped the third set to the French challenger. The younger player won an astounding number of medium rallies, matching Murray shot for shot. At one point in the third set, he leveled a shot back to Murray who sent back a meek return. Bourgue won the point by targeting the baseline with a strong winner that dejected the spirits of his higher-ranked opponent. Undaunted by the tall task of toppling one of the best in the game, Bourgue claimed victory in the third set to take a commanding lead.
Murray reclaims form and claims victory
The shot-making ability of the upstart Frenchman came at a high priced. He committed a large number of unforced errors. The cost of those would contribute to a Murray win.
The British star reclaimed physical form and overpowered his challenger. He broke the latter and finally put himself on track to serve out the set. That, however, wasn't without its problems. Bourgue was able to once again put himself back in the match with a little luck from a poor forehand off the racket of Murray.
For all the problems Murray's game at Roland Garros he's eventually come out the winner. Today's match was not different. Murray was able to finally put away a young competitor who showed no fear of Murray's ranking or physical game.
The task gets harder in the third round as Murray is due to face the big serve of Ivo Karlovic. He can take solace in the fact that he may finally be able to get a little rest before the all-important third round bout.