Murray advances in the French Open

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Andy Murray survived a major mid-match slump to defeat Potito Starace in four sets in the second round of the French Open today.

The British number one was a 6-3 2-6 7-5 6-4 winner against the Italian on Philippe Chatrier court, setting up a third-round clash with either Janko Tipsarevic or Feliciano Lopez, the 28th seed.

Murray started and finished solidly but his form dipped dramatically in the second and third sets, when he lost 11 out of 13 games to the world number 104.

In that third set, he recovered from 5-1 down to win six games in a row, and that laid the platform for his battling victory.

It is the second year in a row he has made the third round at Roland Garros.

As Murray predicted, Starace stuck stubbornly behind his baseline throughout but after a slow start the 27-year-old showed why the Scot had dubbed him a clay-court specialist and a "top player" on the eve of the match.

The first set was all about Murray's nagging consistency. Although he landed just 62% of his first serves, that department was very solid as he dropped just three points on serve.

It meant Starace was always under pressure on his serve, and after Murray squandered two break points in the third game, he earned two more in game five, taking the second of them with a fading backhand down the line.

The Scot took the 31-minute set at the first time of asking when Starace netted trying to retrieve a cute Murray drop shot but the flow of the match suddenly changed.

Starace upped both his intensity and aggression, and Murray - whose first-serve percentage slipped to 52% - suffered.

The Briton saved two early break points but was up against it in his next service game, in the third game of the set, as he faced five more.

He saved the first four, each time coming to the net, but on the fifth Starace emerged triumphant thanks to a blocked backhand at the end of a wonderful rally.

A powerful cross-court backhand on the first of two break points allowed Starace to go 4-1 up and he did not wilt in the face of fierce Murray resistance when serving for the set, taking it at the fourth time of asking.

Murray was just as error-prone at the start of a riveting third set, as he was broken twice to slip 5-1 down.

The 22-year-old looked down and out but after saving a set point the next game, he launched a memorable comeback.

Retrieving drop-shots he was not making earlier, Murray won another five games in the spin - one of which contained another Starace set point - as he broke three times to claim a set that looked to have got away from him.

The fourth and final set went with serve until 5-4, when Murray claimed a hard-fought victory on his third match point with a fiercely whipped, cross-court forehand.