French Open: Andy Murray beats Eric Prodon in opener
- Roland Garros, Paris
- 22 May-5 June
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Andy Murray made it through the first round of the French Open in straight sets but it was not the most comfortable of starts for Britain's number one.
Murray, the fourth seed, beat French qualifier Eric Prodon 6-4 6-1 6-3 and will face Italian Simone Bolelli in round two on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Scot has suffered some surprising defeats this year and had been at pains before his opener at Roland Garros to avoid talk of a mismatch, but the formbook suggested otherwise.
Prodon was playing his first ever match in the main draw of a Grand Slam at the age of 29 and had never previously beaten a player inside the world's top 100.
And although he might have had the support of the home crowd, the scheduling did him no favours as the usually vibrant Court Suzanne Lenglen was hardly a cauldron at 1100 local time.
Still, it was the biggest match of Prodon's life and he at least made an impression, with Murray sure to remember the Frenchman's drop shot for some time to come.
Three in the opening game had Murray scrambling unsuccessfully, only for Prodon to miss a backhand on break point, but a huge forehand winner in the following game served notice that he knew his way around a clay court.
Murray was the class act, however, and when he broke for 3-1 after a couple of Prodon errors, the story of the match appeared to be in place.
This was one of those scratchy, irritable days for Murray though and when serving for the set he almost gave it away, a double fault handing Prodon two break-back points and the Frenchman converting the first with a brilliant drop shot.
Murray reacted immediately, stepping up the aggression on his return of serve to force a set point in game 10 and taking it when Prodon sent a backhand wide.
The second set was over within 25 minutes after Murray grabbed the first break in a lengthy game four, and with the winners starting to flow he looked ready to close out the match swiftly, but the frustrated outbursts and glances to his player's box continued.
He appeared to know before anyone else that there was another twist to come and two errors allowed Prodon to break for 3-1 in the second set, enlivening the now considerably fuller stadium.
But it was a final flourish for the world number 124 rather than the start of a fightback and, again, Murray went through the gears when necessary, reeling off five games in a row to secure a scoreline that looked far more straightforward than much of the action.
"It was a tough match," Murray said afterwards. "There was no rhythm really to the match. He didn't want to have any long rallies so he was hitting a lot of drop shots.
"He changed the rhythm and the pace of the ball a lot, so I was finding it tough and was annoyed with the way I was moving.
"I was hitting the ball well, especially towards the end of the match, and served well but there weren't any good rallies really because they were all pretty short.
"I was told going in he's very unpredictable. That's why it was a difficult match and just a quite frustrating one to play, because even though I was in front, all of the points were just really scrappy until the end when I went behind."
Asked specifically about the number of drop shots Prodon played, Murray admitted: "The way I was dealing with them, I would have kept hitting them too.
"I hardly won a point when he had a drop shot today. I was getting to most of them, just not really doing much with them, so I'll do some work on that tomorrow on the practice court."
Prodon consulted the doctor at various times during the match and revealed afterwards that, as well as struggling with ongoing abdominal pain, he was also suffering from suspected gastroenteritis.
The Frenchman stated: "It's a miracle that I finished the match and played three sets with nothing in my stomach since last night. Of course it is frustrating. He's a good player and I really wanted to play a real match against him.
"I succeeded sometimes to do a few good things. But it felt frustrating to not be able to deliver during this kind of match."
Prodon felt his unfamiliarity was an advantage at the start of the match but he conceded he could not find the consistency to exploit Murray's lapses.
"I felt he was a bit tense to begin with," he added. "Like any other big player, when they walk on court in the first round, it's never too easy. They need to find their landmarks, discover who the opponent is, because he didn't know me.
"But once he started finding his way around, he released his shots during the second set. Even in the third set I managed to gather some energy to try to destabilise him. But he came back into the match very quickly because I was not consistent enough."