Andy Murray beats Radek Stepanek in five sets in French Open first round

Radek Stepanek and Andy Murray
The experienced Stepanek tested Murray throughout a tense match
French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 22 May to 5 June
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app.

Andy Murray finally beat 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek in five sets to avoid a shock first-round defeat at the French Open in Paris.

The British world number two trailed two sets to one when play was suspended on Monday because of bad light.

Murray, 29, won the fourth set but was pushed hard by his Czech opponent before winning the deciding set to clinch a 3-6 3-6 6-0 6-3 7-5 victory.

British number two Aljaz Bedene reached the second round for the first time.

He began his match against Austrian qualifier Gerald Melzer with two double faults and lost the first eight points, but he was the better player after that and came through 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4.

With Kyle Edmund also winning, there are three British men in the second round at Roland Garros for the first time since 1975.

The last time Murray lost in the first round of a Grand Slam was in 2008.

A three-time French Open semi-finalist, he has now come from two sets down to win nine times in Grand Slam matches.

Murray will next face French wildcard Mathias Bourgue, who is ranked 164 in the world, in the third match on Philippe Chatrier Court on Wednesday.

When play began on Tuesday, Murray survived two break points in his opening service game before levelling the match by breaking.

But Stepanek, the oldest man in the draw, continued to frustrate the Briton with some inspired shot-making in a nervy fifth set.

Murray was two points from defeat when serving at 4-5 but held on and broke in the next game.

He double-faulted on his first match point but sealed victory after three hours and 41 minutes when Stepanek netted an attempted drop-volley two points later.

Murray, who sportingly applauded Stepanek off the court, said: "He had an extremely bad injury last year and still at 37 coming out and fighting like that, playing that way, it's unbelievable.

"I don't expect to be doing that myself at that age. I'm just glad I managed to get through.

"He's always been extremely difficult to play. I wasn't able to dictate many of the points, I wasn't in a great rhythm, and that's credit to him and the way that he played. I fought extremely hard today and I'll get a chance to play again tomorrow."


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

"Stepanek played a magnificent final set: serving and volleying himself out of trouble when the occasional break point down and engaging theatrically with the crowd, which warmed to a 37-year-old who is a real craftsman of his trade.

"Murray was two points from defeat at 4-5 deuce in that deciding set, but it is notable that with his French Open on the line he did not face a single break point in the final set.

"Stepanek's poor final service game cost him dear, and despite serving a double fault on his first match point, Murray did not let him off the hook. The reserves of nervous energy have been depleted, but rather that than an early start to the grass-court season."

British players at the French Open
Women: Heather Watson (second round)Naomi Broady, Johanna Konta, Laura Robson (first round)
Men: Kyle Edmund, Aljaz Bedene, Andy Murray (second round)None

Davis Cup battle on Bedene's mind

Aljaz Bedene
Bedene joined Murray and Edmund in the second round

Bedene, who is being coached on a temporary basis by GB Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, will play Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

He has admitted to struggling with his game amid the stress of his battle to compete for Britain in the Davis Cup.

The Slovenia-born player should learn in the next week or two whether there is any chance of another appeal.

He said: "It's really important to come out as a winner. It wasn't easy.

"I felt OK but when you do the first two double faults you feel like, 'OK, it's going to be a grind'.

"The first set wasn't the best but then I stepped in more, and played my game more. I was fully focused. Just all the nonsense left behind, so it was good."

Edmund to face big-serving Isner

Edmund will take on 15th seed John Isner in the second round after the American fired down 40 aces to overcame John Millman of Australia.

Isner won 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (12-10) 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 in another match played over two days.

Edmund beat Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili on Monday.

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