French Open 2014: Andy Murray survives his longest match to roar into reunion with Fernando Verdasco

 

Roland garros

When a long-distance race becomes a marathon you can usually rely on Andy Murray to cross the finish line first. The longest match of Murray’s career in terms of the number of games played ended here at the French Open yesterday with the 27-year-old Scot beating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 12-10. After play had been suspended because of fading light at 7-7 in the final set the previous evening, Kohlschreiber was the man who eventually cracked under the pressure of repeatedly having to serve to stay in the match.

Murray, who faces Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round on Monday, has one of the game’s outstanding records in five-set marathons, having won 13 of the last 15 matches in which he has been taken the distance. In most of those it has been Murray who has shown the greater strength both mentally and physically, but on this occasion it was the Scot who struggled to last the pace. At four hours and seven minutes it was the third longest match he has ever played in terms of time, exceeded only by his epic encounters with Novak Djokovic in 2012 at the Australian and US Opens.

Having led 4-2 and 30-0 in the fourth set, Murray was kicking himself on Saturday evening when he let Kohlschreiber back into the contest. The Scot suffered from cramp in the fifth set and had his legs massaged by the trainer during change-overs. He got no more than five hours’ sleep on Saturday night – “I kept waking up and I was ready to play at four or five in the morning”, he said – though he did not suffer the same physical problems on yesterday’s resumption.

This was the first five-set match Murray has played since he came back from two sets down at Wimbledon last summer to beat Verdasco. He pointed out that it was also the first five-setter he has played since he underwent back surgery last September.

“We were playing late on Saturday evening, in heavy conditions, so it was tough on the legs,” Murray said. “He makes you do a lot of running as well. He uses the angles extremely well. Once he’s in control of the point, it’s tough to get him out of that.”

The match resumed at 1.30pm on Sunday, nearly 16 hours after play had been curtailed the previous evening.

Kohlschreiber saved a match point when he was trailing 9-8 in the fifth set with a smash and created a break point in the following game, which Murray saved with a big serve. When the Scot served at 10-10 and 15-30 he had a slice of luck as his backhand shot hit the top of the net and toppled over the other side for a winner.

From that moment onwards Kohlschreiber won only two more points. Receiving serve in the next game Murray hit a forehand winner to lead 40-15  and went on to convert match point with a big backhand return. His victory roar was probably in relief as much as celebration.

Kohlschreiber said: “The momentum was maybe a little bit more on my side yesterday night, but I’ve seen him play many matches. He’s a huge fighter. He never gives up.”

The win extended Murray’s fine record of consistency at the highest level. He has reached the second week of 22 of the last 23 Grand Slam tournaments he has played and has now made it to the fourth round or better at the last five French Opens he has contested.

Spain’s Verdasco, who also had to return yesterday to complete a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over the Frenchman Richard Gasquet, gave Murray his hardest match en route to the Wimbledon title last summer, winning the first two sets before losing in five. Verdasco has lost nine of their 10 meetings, but Murray agreed that playing on clay was to  the 30-year-old Spaniard’s advantage.

“Not many people think I play particularly well on clay, so I would say that would give him an edge,” Murray said. “He’s the sort of guy who has the fire power to take the play away from you a bit. He can dictate the match because of the power he can generate. I’ll need to try to keep the ball away from the dangerous areas of the courts, the places where he’s most comfortable.”

Verdasco said he anticipated a tough match. “Playing Murray is never easy,” he admitted. “He plays wonderful tennis and has won Grand Slams so he deserves my respect.

“But you can’t compare the match in Wimbledon when he was playing at home on grass with a match here in Paris. It doesn’t mean I’m going to win. All I’m saying is it’s a totally different match.”

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links