By Melina Harris
At two sets to love down to Richard Gasquet in the first round of the French Open on a balmy court Suzanne Lenglen Monday, Andy Murray must have taken heart from his thrilling comeback against the young Frenchman at Wimbledon in 2008, when at two sets to love down, Centre Court erupted as he fought back valiantly to win the match in an epic five set battle, only to be annihilated by eventual winner Rafael Nadal.
After being wiped out by Gasquet’s penetrating backhand in the first two sets, Murray managed to claw his way back with some impressive defensive tennis after his opponent began to show visible signs of fatigue following his impressive title victory against Fernando Verdasco last Saturday in Nice. Gasquet had requested more recovery time, but his appeal was declined, much to Murray’s favor who capitalized in the final three sets to win, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, completing the victory with an ace into the corner of the advantage court. Gasquet was reflective after the match; “He [Murray] is always fighting, fighting, putting the balls in the court. Even if he is not playing so good, it is very tough to beat him.”
Once the game went into a fifth set, statistically there was only ever going to be one winner; for Andy Murray had won six of his previous seven five set matches, while Richard Gasquet had lost a miserable eight out of his past nine. The match lasted a lengthy 4 hours and 4 minutes, causing Murray’s troublesome knee to flare up after the match, which needed intensive icing. The world No. 4 has a bipartite patella (a split right knee cap) which he will have to cope with for the rest of his tennis career. Murray said after the match, “My [right] knee is sore, a four-hour match probably wasn’t the best thing for it. I have to manage the problems as best I can. It hurts at different times of the year and there is nothing I can do about it because it was just something I was born with and I am going to have to deal with it for the rest of my career. It’s a lot worse than people think and hurts for the majority of the year.”
His knee issue is not the only problem he will have to overcome to continue further into the tournament, his low first serve percentage, delivering just 46 percent against Gasquet will have to be improved as it exposes a second serve that everyone in the game is well aware lacks penetration; a weakness that the clay court specialists will inevitably pounce on with devastating accuracy. However, Murray was brimming with confidence when asked about his second round clash with Juan Ignacio Chela, the Argentine he beat in straight sets in Madrid last week, stating “Chela is a very good player but I feel good going into the match and will be confident.” He has an impressive one hundred percent record against the Argentine, winning each of the five encounters between the pair, so Murray can afford to go into the second round with a positive frame of mind, while British fans will still undoubtedly be holding their breath!
Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter. She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.