Andy Murray is still alive in the French Open, but it feels as if he’s close to drawing dead. The World No. 2 had to come from behind again on Wednesday, this time defeating complete unknown Mathias Bourgue, 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. The 22-year-old Frenchman entered the tournament without having won a single ATP Tour level match.
Murray appeared in some measure of physical discomfort midmatch, with what might have been a stomach issue. He looked better in the latter sets (hard not to after losing 24 of the final 27 points in the second set) and that’s reflected in the scoreline, although he’s now compiled over seven hours on court in just two matches.
With big servers Ivo Karlovic and John Isner on tap before potential meetings with Kei Nishkori and Stan Wawrinka, it’s not so much the physical drain that should concern the Murray camp, but the mental drain. As Murray himself said, he can’t be spending this much time on court and win the tournament.
He also poked fun at himself on Facebook:
Dead at Murray's FB post this evening. pic.twitter.com/1O6mVmQHPJ
— Lucy S (@lucysophiaj) May 25, 2016
Other Wednesday headlines:
— Murray was one of the only big names under siege. On the men’s side, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, John Isner, Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios (in just 70 minutes) and Richard Gasquet all won their second round matches in straights, as did Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova for the women. The Williams sisters won 6-2, 6-2, in doubles.
— Also winning in straights under dicier circumstances were Stan Wawrinka (saved set points in the first, trailed by a break in the third), Aga Radwanska (led 6-2, 4-1 until Caroline Garcia mounted a valiant comeback; Aga had to battle for a 6-4 second set) and Sloane Stephens (was a point away from trailing 4-0 before winning 7-6 (0), 6-1).
— Sascha Zverev was the last player through to round two, resuming his opener from Tuesday and finishing Pierre-Hugues Herbert in four sets.
— Along with all the blowouts were a trio of marathon matches. By beating Jordan Thompson 11-9 in the fifth set, Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man since Jimmy Connors to make the third round at a Slam. Powered by chants of “Gillou!” from the French crowd, Gilles Simon came from two sets to defeat Guido Pella. Simon said “I’m dead” in press following the match, which went 4:32. Finally, Irina-Camelia Begu and Coco Vandeweghe played the longest match of the WTA season, with Begu prevailing, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 10-8. It went past three and a half hours thanks to Begu breaking when Vandeweghe served for the match at 6-5 in the third.
Thursday marquee matches:
Dominic Thiem vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: Thiem should prevail, but this one will be a grind. Thiem in 4.
Timea Bacsinszky vs Genie Bouchard: 2015 semifinalist vs 2014 semifinalist. Though Bacsinszky is the favorite, this will be a good test of Bouchard as she bounces back from a turbulent last year-and-change. Bacsisnzky in a competitive 2-setter.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Marcos Baghdatis: The result won’t be in doubt, but smiles, trick shots and crowd involvement will be in abundance in this matchup of two of the sport’s most lighthearted showmen. Tsonga in 3.
Venus Williams vs Louisa Chirico: This All-American battle features a star of the past and a potential figure of the future. Williams is no longer a big threat on clay but Chirico had to go 8-6 in the third to get her first Grand Slam win. At just 20 years old, fatigue could be a factor worth monitoring. Chirico in 3.
Men in action: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Goffin, Sascha Zverev, David Ferrer vs Juan Monaco, Nico Almagro vs Jiri Vesely, Borna Coric vs Bernard Tomic
Women in action: Serena Williams, Madison Keys, Ana Ivanovic, Carla Suarez Navarro, Dominika Cibulkova, Dasha Kasatkina, Andrea Petkovic vs Yulia Putintseva, Elina Svitolina vs Taylor Townsend