The occasional breakdown in relationships between individual players and umpires has been high on the agenda at the French Open this week but Andy Murray insisted he had no complaints about twice being reprimanded for slow play.
Pascal Maria handed Murray two time violations during the Scot’s 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 second-round victory over Portugal’s Joao Sousa. The umpire had warned Murray he was taking too long between points – only 20 seconds is allowed at Grand Slam tournaments, which is five seconds less than on the men’s tour – and issued his first official warning as the world No 3 dropped his serve for the first time in the second set.
A second warning followed in the third set, as a result of which Murray was allowed only one serve on that point. Nevertheless, Murray’s only complaint was he had taken his time on the second occasion because he was waiting for the end of an action replay on the big screen.
“I like the time rule,” Murray said afterwards. “I think it’s there for a reason. Sometimes I play too slow, though I don’t mean to do it. As a player you have no idea how long you’re taking in between the points.”
Murray said it was up to the umpire to make the players play at the right speed and stressed he had no issue with Maria. “There were points today where I got told I was playing too slow and I tried to speed up,” he said. “And I did.”
The time issue has been a bone of contention for a while, with many in the game feeling that some top players – Rafael Nadal in particular –regularly get away with taking too long between points.
Nadal has also been at the centre of the discussions about the relationships between players and umpires, having asked the men’s tour not to appoint Carlos Bernardes to his matches after falling out with the Brazilian official earlier this year.
It has since emerged that there have been other occasions when players have asked to avoid particular umpires. It is also not uncommon for umpires to alert tournaments to matches they believe it would be diplomatic for them to avoid because of past problems with players. Murray, nevertheless, said that he had never made a request to avoid a particular umpire.
The first time violation could not have come at a trickier moment for the Scot. Having hardly put a foot wrong in the first set, in which he would have dropped only one point on his serve if he had not double-faulted twice in a row at 5-2 and 40-0, he ran into trouble in the second.
Finding the target with barely a third of his first serves, Murray received his first time violation as he was broken to love in the eighth game. He broke back immediately but dropped his serve again in the following game as an emboldened Sousa, who was now going for his shots, levelled the match.
The turning point came when Murray saved two break points with big serves when 2-1 down in the third set. He made the only break of the third set in the seventh game with some punishing returns and quickly took control of the fourth to complete his 12th successive clay-court victory in two and a half hours.
In the third round tomorrow Murray will face Nick Kyrgios, who has not played a singles match since his first-round victory on Sunday. The 20-year-old Australian’s scheduled second-round opponent, Kyle Edmund, withdrew with injury.
Kyrgios, who has rapidly climbed to No 30 in the world rankings, has not won a set in his two previous meetings with Murray but beat Nadal at Wimbledon last summer and recently added Roger Federer to his scalps. “He’s obviously a very talented guy and he likes the big stage,” Murray said. “He can cause a lot of players trouble. He’s an exciting guy to watch.”
Novak Djokovic, who took a medical time-out for treatment on a groin problem during his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, will also face a rising Australian talent next. Thanasi Kokkinakis, who has only just turned 19 but in the view of many is the best of an exciting crop of young players from Down Under, became the first teenager to reach the third round here for seven years when he recovered from two sets down to beat his fellow countryman, Bernard Tomic, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 8-6 after nearly three and a half hours.
Kokkinakis, who also won from two sets down when he beat Lukas Rosol in the Davis Cup recently, ended the match with a sore hip, having required treatment after falling on his racket when he tried to retrieve a smash. The world No 84’s big-hitting game was reflected in the statistics: he hit 19 aces to Tomic’s six and 71 winners to his opponent’s 37.
Nadal met his fellow Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, for the fourth time at this tournament. As usual the match ended in a straight-sets victory for Nadal, though the nine-times champion said his 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win had been more difficult than the scoreline might have suggested. He will now play Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.
John Isner, one of only two men who have taken Nadal to five sets in the champion’s 11 appearances here, was beaten 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 by Jérémy Chardy, while 18-year-old Borna Coric struck a blow for the emerging generation when he beat the veteran Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.Reuse content