PARIS (AFP) - Britain’s Andy Murray conceded he “lost his way” against 164th-ranked local wildcard Mathias Bourgue before battling back to survive a monumental second-round upset at the French Open on Wednesday.
Second seed Murray prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a second successive five-set struggle, having also been taken the distance by 37-year-old Radek Stepanek in the opening round.
“Today certainly wasn’t easy. I lost my way on the court today for quite a while,” said Murray, who swept to the opening set before watching on bewilderedly as Bourgue stormed two sets to one ahead.
“So to turn it around and find a way to win after a period where I was struggling to win points at one stage, I was losing a lot of games at love.
“It felt like, you know – I mean, every time the ball was in the middle of the court he was hitting winners. I couldn’t see where his shots were going. Yeah, it was a big struggle but I managed to get the win.”
World number two Murray had been facing his earliest Grand Slam exit since 2008, but the two-time major champion responded in the fourth to force a decider before completing another nervy five-set win to book a last-32 showdown with big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic.
There were few signs of imminent danger for Murray when he broke Bourgue twice to grab the opening set as the Scot then forged 2-0 ahead in the second.
But few could have predicted what lay ahead, as Bourgue, who had never previously even faced a player ranked inside the top 50, seized the next six games – winning at one stage 16 straight points – to leave Murray baffled.
Roared on by a vocal home crowd on the main showcourt, Bourgue continued to dominate with a fourth consecutive break of Murray’s serve to open the third set.
Murray finally snapped a run of eight games in a row for the Frenchman, but Bourgue displayed remarkable composure to make the early break stick and move within one set of a stunning upset.
The former US Open and Wimbledon champion refused to wilt though and secured a crucial break at 2-1 in the fourth to send the contest into a fifth set.
And Murray completed another dramatic five-set win, but not before needing two attempts to serve it out in the decider.
“It was tough, but a lot of that is down to the way that he played, as well,” said Murray, who retained his record of having never lost to a player outside the top 100 at a Grand Slam.
“I have never seen him play a match before, really. I watched some video this morning, and he was really good, as well.
“I had 6-2, 2-0 and he started playing unbelievable and I started to find it hard to win points, not just games.
“He was excellent. He was the one dictating a lot of the points and making me run a lot,” Murray added of Bourgue, who had never won a Tour-level match prior to arriving at Roland Garros.
“I just tried to fight through until the end.
“I need to go and rest, it’s been a tough few days. To go far in the tournament you can’t play too many matches like this.”