French Open 2017: Murray fends off Kuznetsov to reach round two

French Open 2017: Murray fends off Kuznetsov to reach round two

The world number one prevailed in in four sets to reach the second round in Paris.

Joe Nicholson

For an hour and a half, Andy Murray found himself entrenched in a battle with world number 73 Andrey Kuznetsov in the opening round of the French Open.

Murray, the world number one, has made the worst start to a season since 2008, while looking like a shadow of the player who appeared unstoppable at the end of last year.

Even so, after dropping the second set on the Phillipe Chatrier Court, he lost just two more games before recording a 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-0 victory in two hours and 32 minutes.

The Brit will now take on Slovakia’s Martin Klizan in round two, before a potential third round clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro.

Kuznetsov provides an early challange

This was no easy first round matchup for Murray, especially after his early defeats in Madrid and Rome.

Kuznetsov is a phenomenal ball striker, who reached the semi-finals of an ATP 250 event in Geneva last week – where he eventually lost to Stan Wawrinka.

However, the Russian can also be extremely temperamental and, in a best of five set match, it was the consistency of Murray which prevailed.

After recovering from 0-40 down in his opening service game, Murray took control of the match, breaking Kuznetsov in the sixth game to lead 4-2.

The Brit served for the opening set two games later, however a couple of missed first serves allowed the Kuznetzov to pounce.

Fortunately for Murray, his opponent buckled when serving at 4-5 and after some loose groundstrokes, Kuznetzov conceded the set with a double fault.

The pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second before Kuznetzov stormed into a 5-2 lead, punishing Murray’s vulnerable second serve on several occasions.

Murray too strong over best of five sets

Even so, the erratic Russian couldn’t keep his level up and faded quickly in sets three and four.

Murray broke serve early in the third, before wrapping up the match with relative ease.

By the fourth set, Kuznetzov’s spirit had been broken, as Murray reeled off the last eight games of the contest to book his place in the second round.

Edmund through but Konta crashes out

Elsewhere, Britain’s number one female Johanna Konta was beaten by world number 109 Hsieh Su-Wei.

Konta is still yet to win a match at Roland Garros in three attempts after a 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 defeat on the Phillipe Chatrier Court.

There was better news for Kyle Edmund, who swept past Portugal's Gastao Elias 6-3 6-2 7-5.

Edmund will now face the winner of the match between home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Argentina's Renzo Olivo.

Olivo, the world number 91, led 7-5 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 5-4, with Tsonga set to serve, before the match was stopped due to bad light.

The biggest shock of the day was the departure of ninth seed and Rome champion Alexander Zverev, who was knocked out by Fernando Verdasco.

The pair were locked at one-set-all after the match had been stopped on Monday.

After falling a break behind in the third, Verdasco comfortably prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2.

There were also wins for third seed Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios.