Paris (AFP) – Britain’s Andy Murray survived a monumental second-round upset at the French Open on Wednesday as he battled back to beat 164th-ranked local wildcard Mathias Bourgue 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Second seed Murray, who recovered from two sets down to defeat Radek Stepanek in round one, looked poised for a routine victory after sweeping to the opening set against Bourgue.
But the Frenchman stunned the world number two by claiming the next two sets on Court Philippe Chatrier to leave Murray facing his earliest Grand Slam exit since 2008.
However, the two-time major champion responded in the fourth to force a decider, and Murray completed a second straight nervy five-set win to take his place in the last 32.
“I had 6-2, 2-0 and he started playing unbelievable and I started to find it hard to win points, not just games,” said Murray, who struggled but retained his record of having never lost to player outside the top 100 at a Grand Slam.
“He was excellent. He was the one dictating a lot of the points and making me run a lot,” the Briton said 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.”
There were few signs of imminent danger for Murray when he broke Bourgue twice to grab the opening set, and 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 bewildered.
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 world number two 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.
Murray, a three-time Roland Garros semi-finalist, goes on to play veteran big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic for a spot in the last 16.