Emotional Murray beats torn tendon to book place in quarters
Scotsman 'taking 20 pills a day' but overcomes pain to knock out Serbian and set up Chela clash
It was by no means the biggest win of his career but Andy Murray has rarely felt as emotional after a match. The 24-year-old Scot buried his head in his towel after completing his recovery from two sets down to beat Serbia's Viktor Troicki 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 here yesterday in the fourth round of the French Open, having trailed 5-2 in the deciding set.
The performance was all the more remarkable given that Murray had been given crutches after suffering an ankle injury in his previous match and is taking up to 20 pills a day.
Having secured a place in the quarter-finals, in which he will face Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela today, Murray revealed that an MRI scan on his right ankle, which he had sprained while beating Michael Berrer in the third round, had revealed a partial tear in a tendon. He was advised not to put any weight on the ankle the following day, though he did not use the crutches he was lent "because I did not know how to".
Murray, who said he had had difficulty climbing stairs, did not initially expect to be fit to play in the fourth round but decided after extensive treatment that he would give it a go. He said he was particularly aware of the fact that he had good records against both Troicki and Chela, the two men he needed to beat before a possible semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal, although he knew the danger of aggravating the injury.
"If you go over on the ankle again, that's dangerous, because obviously it's weak just now," he said. "Chasing balls down and sliding for balls, that was what was really tough for me at the start. I didn't feel like I still had the strength in it. That's the one thing I need to be careful with. To go over on it again would be an issue. That's why I had the taping on the ankle, to try and stop that."
Initially cautious in his movement, Murray lost the first two sets on Monday evening, but, as confidence in his ankle grew, levelled the match by the time play was called off for the day at 9.30pm. He admitted he was a bag of nerves when he returned to a chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen for yesterday afternoon's one-set shoot-out.
Painkillers helped him get through the match. "They were very, very strong pills," Murray said. "I feel a million bucks now. I am sure when they wear off I won't."
Although he still had difficulty pushing off on his serves or sliding to hit his forehands, Murray had the better of the opening exchanges, forcing break points in three of Troicki's first four service games. However, the world No 15 defended them stoutly and broke to lead 4-2, despite an extraordinary moment of bad luck on the first point of the game. A ballboy, thinking a Murray lob was going wide, came on to the court before the ball had landed. Troicki still put away an easy smash, but the umpire correctly ruled that the point should be replayed.
Troicki was on the brink of victory when he served at 5-3 and 30-0, but Murray won the next four points courtesy of a fine backhand return winner and three errors by his increasingly nervous opponent. Two games later Murray broke again, after which he converted his fourth match point with a beautifully struck backhand cross-court passing shot. It was the fifth time in his career that he had come back to win from two sets down.
Murray, who has beaten Chela, his quarter-final opponent today, in their last six meetings, said: "It was just very emotional for me after the last few days, last night, coming back. I think it's the first time I've had to come back and just play one set for a place in the quarter-finals of a Slam, with the other things that have been going on in my head with the injury."
He added: "About 10 minutes beforehand I was pretty much out of the tournament. I just managed to turn it around. So it was a little bit of a surprise, a little bit of happiness, a lot of relief probably."
Roger Federer secured a semi-final meeting with Novak Djokovic when he beat France's Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-3, 7-6. Djokovic went through due to Fabio Fognini's withdrawal.
In the women's competition, Francesca Schiavone was a set and 4-2 down against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but recovered to win 1-6, 7-5, 7-5. In the semi-finals the defending champion will face France's Marion Bartoli, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6, 6-4.
To complete an excellent day for the Murray family, brother Jamie and his partner, Nadia Petrova, reached the semi-finals of the mixed doubles by beating Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares 5-7, 6-3, 10-7. They now face the top seeds, Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjic.
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