Tennis: Second seed Andy Murray scrapes into French Open third round

Murray returns the ball to Mathias Bourgue during their men's second round match.
Murray returns the ball to Mathias Bourgue during their men's second round match.PHOTO: AFP

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.”