by Michael Lemont
Five questions in tennis for 2017.
1- Murray/Djokovic : Who’s gonna take over the leadership?
Ranked No. 1 for almost three years, Novak Djokovic has lost his throne a couple of weeks before the end of the season. After a perfect first half of the year with a sixth win at the Australian Open, another double Indian Wells/Miami, the Serb finally won the French Open, the last major missing to his trophies, achieving a Grand Slam astride two seasons. He probably needed to release some pressure afterwards and during the second half of the season, he just won one title (Toronto) while Andy Murray became almost invincible with eight titles including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, 78 wins in total and 24 in a row to finish the season. And no doubt that his success over Djokovic in the Masters Cup final at home in London was the best conclusion for him, knowing that he lost 13 of their last 15 meetings before that ultimate one. So what’s gonna be Novak’s reaction in 2017? Will he be able to come back to the top? Can Murray stay number one for a little while?
2- Federer/Nadal : Can the Big Four be reunited?
The Big Four fell apart this year. After two semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Roger Federer withdrew for the rest of the season due to his back injury. He also had to retire from the French Open earlier one, first time since 1999 that he missed a major. And for the first time since 2002, he finished a season out of the Top 10 (16th). Rafael Nadal was not luckier in 2016. He was victim of a wrist injury in spring and he had to retire from Roland Garros, for the first time, after the second round. He came back for the Olympics (gold in double, semi in single) but it was too premature and after a disappointing US Open, he withdrew for the rest of the season. Ranked No. 9, it is his worst ranking since 2005. It’s also the first time that none of them is in the Top 4 since 2003. However, they both claimed that they will come back stronger for the opening season. They will turn 36 and 31 years old in 2017. Will they reach the top 4 again? Will they be able to be consistent enough all over the season?
3- Del Potro : Can he come back to the top again ?
After 4 wrist surgery and few years off-court since his first and last success in a major (US Open 2009), Juan Martin del Potro is trying another come back. Ranked No. 1,042 in February, he finished the season No. 38. With some astonishing wins this year over some top players (Wawrinka in Wimbledon, Djokovic and Nadal at the Olympics, Murray in the Davis Cup), he proved himself that without any injuries he will be able to reach the Top 10 again and much more. Beside the Big Four, he is the only player with Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to have won a Grand Slam in the last 12 years. Silver medalist in Rio, he just led the Argentina team to his first Davis Cup trophy, becoming a hero in his country. No doubt that he will be one the players to follow during the upcoming season.
4- The “teen generation” … What’s next?
Because the tennis becomes more and more powerful and physical, it is hard today for the players to break through at an early age. The last teenagers to be part of the Top 10 were Rafael Nadal in 2005 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2000. Players play longer and reach their best level later than before. The top 100 and top 10 had never been so old in the last few years. But after the 85-86 generation, the 95-96 one is now ready to reverse the trend. For the first time since 2008, the Top 10 is getting younger again (mostly because Roger Federer left it in 2016). The leader of that new generation is Nick Kyrgios, 21 years old and already ranked No. 13 at the ATP. He is one of the only six players that has beaten at least six Top 10 players during the season. He might need to become more mature and professional in order to claim big victories in a very close future. Alexander Zverev (19yo, 24th, one title in St-Petersburg), Borna Coric (20yo, 48th, 2 finals in Chennai and Marrakech) and Taylor Fritz (19yo, 77th, one final in Memphis) are at least as promising. Around the Top 100, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hyeon Chung, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev are other names to focus on and to follow for the next seasons.
5 – What about the others?
With three wins in three different majors in the last three years, Stanislas Wawrinka will be one of the most serious contenders to the Big Four once again. However, his lack of consistency will not make him a pretender to the No. 1 status. Alongside him, the old generation will still be there with Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Marin Cilic and the Frenchmen. Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet will try to become the first french players to win a Major since Yannick Noah in 1983. In the meantime the middle generation never seemed to be that strong. Milos Raonic (3rd), Key Nishikori (5th), Dominic Thiem (8th) and David Goffin (11th) looked mature enough to compete with the Big Four. Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic and Lucas Pouille can also have ambitious goals for 2017.
Hopefully all those players are gonna make this upcoming season a great one, full of records, emotions and suspense.
The race for the number one ranked place is hotting up as both Murray and Djokovic managed to get through the Quarter Finals at The Paris Masters. If Andy Murray can win the tournament and Djokovic not make the final, the Scotsman will make his lifelong dream of becoming the top-ranked player in the world.
Murray Eases Past Lucas Pouille
Andy Murray thrashed rising French tennis star Pouille 6 – 3, 6 – 0 to fly into the quarterfinals. The Scottish tennis star did at times looked tired which will have been because of his hard-fought second round match against Fernado Verdasco. It took Murray two and a half hours to beat him and drained his energy levels for the match against Pouille. With him being able to dispatch Pouille quickly it will help him recover in time for the quarterfinals.
Murray`s win over Pouille was his 71st this year and he has already equaled his earlier best set in 2015.
Djokovic Makes Comeback After Losing First Set
Currently, world number one Djokovic managed to beat Grigor Dimitrov to make the quarterfinals. It was not as straightforward as he would have liked having lost the first set 4-6. The Serb managed to recover winning the next two sets 6-2, 6-3.
If Djokovic is able to win his quarterfinal against Marin Cilic it will mean that Murray will have to win the tournament to overtake the Serb to take his place as the new number one ranked player in the world.
If both Djokovic and Murray make the Paris Master final, then the Scotsman even if he beat the Serb will not become the first ranked tennis player in the world. He will have to wait until the ATP World Finals at the O2 arena in London and outperform Djokovic in the tournament to take the 1st ranked spot from him.
Barclays 2016 ATP World Tour Finals
It is highly likely that Murray will have to wait to claim the top spot until the ATP World Tour Finals in London. He will have his work cut out though as Djokovic is the current champion and if he wins it again this year he will equal Federer’s record of winning it 6 times.
It is a Tennis tournament that has been dominated by two players. Only one other player apart from Federer or Djokovic has done the event since 2006. The Serb has reached the semifinals or better in 10 out of 11 appearances in the tournament and is the hot favorite to win it again this time around.
Stan Wawrinka is also one of the favorites for the ATP World Tour finals so it is going to be a fierce battle between the three. Wawrinka started the season on fire and won the U.S Open Final against Djokovic. In fact, the two Grand Slam finals where the two have played each other Wawrinka has won both and will be a major threat to Djokovic equaling Federer’s record and keeping his number 1 ranking. If you are thinking of putting a bet on with tournament make sure that you visit bestbettingwebsites.org.uk for the best odds and promotions from the top bookmakers.
Who would have thought that Andy Murray would get this close to becoming the Number one Tennis Player in the world? The online tennis odds of Murray reaching the summit were never high.
His rivals were simply too good; however, it looks like Murray has overcome all obstacles to finally come within striking distance of the top spot. A long time ago, seven years ago to be exact, Andy Murray reached the No.2 spot in the rankings.
And that lit a fire in him, a desire to climb over opponents like Roger Federer to finally make it to the top. And the fact that he has come so close is nothing to scoff at; because Murray can literally touch his objective considering just how close he is to the top.
And with rivals like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, it says a lot about Murray that he has climbed so far up the rankings. The only thing standing in his way is the Paris Masters. If Murray can win there and Djokovic fails to reach the final, then Murray will become the top-ranked Tennis player in the World for the first time in his career.
Of course, with the sort of pressure such a prospect can attract, Murray cannot afford to dwell on it, and he said as much in a recent interview. He cannot think about it too much, not when he has matches to prepare for in the immediate future.
Murray is right in thinking that he has no control over whether or not he becomes the Top-Ranked player. As things stand, Murray could win all his matches and still fail to become No.1.
Novak still holds all the cards; he can still waylay Murray’s journey to the top. Luckily for Murray, he hasn’t made becoming No.1 an obsession, which can happen sometimes. He has simply focused on doing his best in each and every game. He has no intention of acting any different from what he has done for the last couple of weeks.
That isn’t to say that Murray is completely brushing aside the idea of actually becoming No.1. Even if Andy were to strive to become the Top-Ranked player in the world, he doesn’t think he can achieve that goal before early 2017 at best. The prospect of reaching that goal this week seems unlikely for Murray.
This season has been good to Murray, allowing him to exceed many of his own records by winning seven titles; however, Novak has also performed astoundingly in 2016. If Murray does become Number one, he would be the oldest person to do so (at age 29) since John Newcombe who took the spot in 1974 when he was 30.
Murray is confident in his abilities and definitely, believes that he deserves the top spot. The last few months have seen Murray perform at his absolute best.
Last year’s Paris Masters didn’t end well for Murray who lost to Novak in the final; now, Murray will face Fernando Verdasco in the second round. Even with his victories at the Olympics and in Vienna, there is no way of telling whether or not Murray will end 2016 as the top-ranked player in tennis.
Will Andy Murray be able to overcome his U.S. Open disappointment and lead Great Britain to the Davis Cup final?
He will get his chance at redemption when Great Britain faces Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinal this weekend against Argentina in Glasgow indoors on a hard court at the Emirates Arena.
After suffering through a frustrating loss to Kei Nishikori of Japan in the U.S. Open quarterfinals – only his second loss since the French Open – Murray will surely be bursting with motivation to make up for his failure in New York to lead Britain back into the Davis Cup final and try to win the title for a second straight year.
Murray has a strong supporting cast in the effort against Argentina. The No. 2 singles spot will be either No. 55-ranked Kyle Edmund or No. 53-ranked Dan Evans, both of whom have hot hands after salient efforts at the U.S. Open. Edmund reached the fourth round at a major for the first time in his career, upsetting U.S. No. 1 John Isner before falling to Novak Djokovic. Dan Evans reached the third round and had a match point on eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.
Argentina will be led by Juan Martin del Potro, who Murray beat in the Olympic final and who is fresh off a strong quarterfinal showing in New York that moved his ranking from No. 141 to 64. A rematch of the Olympic gold medal match will be on the schedule for the opening day’s singles when Murray and del Potro reprise their battle from Rio, won by Murray 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 on an outdoor hard court.
Anything can happen in Davis Cup and surprises are common in this unique 116-year-old competition and Argentina’s other singles competitor – either No. 41 Federico Delbonis or No. 49 Guido Pella – could rise to the occasion on foreign soil. However Murray’s teammate, Davis Cup doubles partner – and brother – Jamie Murray comes to Glasgow on a high after winning the doubles title at the U.S. Open with his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares. His presence makes Britain a favorite in all five rubbers in the fast indoor conditions.
In the other semifinal, the deep French team will face a slightly-sputtering Croatia on an indoor court in Zadar, Croatia. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the French team due to his knee injury that caused him to exit the U.S. Open. He will be replaced with Lucas Pouille, the No. 18-ranked rising French star who upset Rafa Nadal en route to the quarterfinals in New York. After a perplexing effort in the U.S. Open semifinal against Djokovic, Gael Monfils will play singles alongside Pouille against the Croatians, led by 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic and No. 41 Borna Coric. After winning the title in Cincinnati in August, Cilic lost in the third round in New York meekly to American Jack Sock. Coric lost in the first round of the U.S. Open and is only 5-5 since he won the fifth and decisive match against Sock of the USA in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in July.
France’s doubles team of Nicola Mahut and Pierre-Hughes Herbert, the No. 1 team in the world, should provide the different for the French to see them to the Davis Cup final for an 18th time.
After a first-round exit at the Olympic Games and a surprise third-round loss at Wimbledon, one has to wonder the status of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic heading into the U.S. Open?
The Serbian has been the dominant force in tennis for most of the last two years, winning three of the four major titles in 2015 and completing a “Novak Slam” by winning his four straight major title at Roland Garros in June. However, since then Djokovic has shown vulnerabilities that will affect his online tennis betting odds at the U.S. Open.
After winning his second straight Olympic singles gold medal in Rio – a first in tennis history – Andy Murray is seen as Djokovic’s main rival in New York. Murray is also primed with the confidence of winning a second Wimbledon title in July.
Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics and eventually earning the silver medal, seems back in the form that lead him to the 2009 U.S. Open title. However, he is ranked No. 141 in the world and did not gain direct entry into the U.S. Open. He will need a wild card entry from the tournament or be forced to win three qualifying matches the week before the main draw. Exhaustion – physical and mental from his Rio efforts – could also affect him in New York.
Monica Puig was the sensation of the women’s Olympic tennis competition becoming the longest shot winner of the gold medal in women’s singles with a rank of No. 34. She posted stunning upsets of No. 4 Garbine Muguruza and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova en route to the final where she hit an incredible 54 winners to upset world No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match. Puig will likely not be emotionally ready to contend for a major title in New York, but Muguruza, Kvitova and Kerber will be favored to go deep in the draw. Serena Williams, the world No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medal winner, was a shock upset victim in the third round in Rio by the hands of Elina Svitolina from Ukraine. She seemed stricken with a should problem that affected her famous powerful serve – as well as being under the weather – and, if healthy – will be motivated to win another U.S. Open title where she would eclipse Steffi Graf’s Open Era record with 23 major singles titles.
Two Wimbledon titles. Two Olympic Gold Medals. How about two U.S. Opens for Andy Murray?
The Scotsman won his second Olympic Gold Medal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil beating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the gold medal match to become the first singles player in Olympic history to win two gold medals – and repeat as champion. The Olympic gold medal for Murray comes on the heels of him winning his second Wimbledon singles title in July.
He now heads to New York as a betting favorite for the U.S. Open, the site of his first major singles title in 2012.
Murray has won his last 18 singles matches – not losing since the French Open final to Novak Djokovic and since he rehired former coach Ivan Lendl, himself a three-time U.S. Open champion. It is his longest winning streak of his professional career.
After being the dominant force in men’s tennis for much of the last three years, Djokovic has shown chinks in his game after a surprising third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and an opening-round loss to del Potro at the Olympics. However, redemption is a motivator for the Serbian as he looks to win in New York for a third time.
The U.S. Open women’s singles event may also be a battle for the No. 1 ranking with Serena Williams seeking to hold off the challenge of world No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams had trouble with her health and her shoulder in her upset loss to Elina Svitolina in the third round at the Olympics that could hamper her in New York. Despite her upset loss to upstart Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match in Rio, Kerber could counter-punch her win to a second major singles title of the year after her win over Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the French Open champion, may also contend in New York, but has struggled since achieving her new status in the tennis world order in Paris.
With the Olympics proving to be a physical and emotional drain for many athletes who competed, a dark horse could also emerge in either the men’s or women’s field and win a first major singles title. New top 10 stars Dominic Thiem of Austria and Milos Raonic of Canada, the Wimbledon finalist, may be fresh enough to make a mark at Flushing Meadows. Romania’s Simona Halep, who also skipped Rio, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, a first-round loser at the Olympics, may also be ready to break through in New York. Madison Keys of the United States, who finished a painful fourth in Rio, is moving fast up the rankings and may be fueled by her disappointment in not winning a medal in Rio into Grand Slam success in New York.
by Kevin Craig
Andy Murray won his third major title on Sunday at Wimbledon as he defeated Milos Raonic in straightforward fashion, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2).
“This is obviously the most important tournament for me every year. I’m proud to have my hands on the trophy again,” said Murray, who shed tears of joy on the court after his win.
The title was Murray’s second at Wimbledon as he was able to give the home crowd their wish, just as he did in 2013, as well as at the 2012 Summer Olympics when he won the gold medal with the event being hosted at the All England Club.
“I’ve had some great moments here, but also some tough losses. The win feels extra special because of the tough losses,” said Murray.
It was a true master-class performance from Murray that earned him his third major title as he was simply able to negate Raonic’s weapons. While Raonic had been able to serve and hit powerful ground strokes through all of his opponents up to the final, Murray is a completely different match-up as his best assets are his return and defense, leaving the Canadian in a world of uncertainty on Centre Court.
“He moves incredibly well. He returns well. Those are his two biggest strengths,” said Raonic of Murray’s play. “Every time you play him, you know he’s going to get more returns back than anyone else.”
Both players looked confident from the onset as Murray, who hit just 12 unforced errors throughout the match, was able to breeze through his service games while Raonic dealt with some early nerves playing in his first major final, fighting off a break point in just his second service game of the match. Murray, though, quickly earned two more break points just a few games later and didn’t miss out again, capitalizing for a 4-3 lead. Two easy holds later and the Brit had taken the first set without facing a break point.
Raonic was again able to fight off a break point early in the second set, but he was still unable to make any inroads on the Murray serve. The Brit only lost more than one point in a service game in the second set twice and was never taken to deuce, allowing him to continuously pressure the Canadian’s biggest weapon, his serve. More break points came at 3-3 and 4-4, but once again Raonic fought those off and eventually forced a tiebreak, a point of the match in which he would have expected to excel.
That was far from the case, though, as Murray raced out to a 3-0 lead before leading 5-1 at the change of ends. The No. 2 seed didn’t look back before sealing the breaker 7-3, placing himself just one set away from more British glory.
Raonic’s level clearly rose in the third set as he was the one that didn’t get taken to deuce a single time. His only real chance in the set, though, came at 2-2 when he had a 15-40 lead on Murray’s serve. The Brit was able to reel off four points in a row from that moment to fight for the hold as Raonic missed out on the only two break points he had in the match, and it was only the second time that the Canadian even managed to take Murray to deuce.
While Raonic still dominated on serve throughout the set, Murray had essentially killed off any real threat from the first time major finalist. When the tiebreak arrived in the third set, it was Murray who, once again, raced out to a big lead of 5-0.
After falling in the final of the first two majors of 2016, there would be no denying Murray this time as he was able to close out the tiebreak at 7-2, earning him his third major title with a stellar performance in front of his home nation.
“Last time, I was so relieved. I felt so much stress and pressure and didn’t really get the chance to enjoy it as much,” said Murray. “So I’ll make sure I enjoy this one tonight, for sure.”
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic was able to complete the “Novak Slam” on Sunday as he defeated Andy Murray for his first French Open title after four runs to the final, and he now has won all four major titles consecutively.
The Serb was able to withstand an early onslaught from the Brit, who many believed to be the favorite in the match, and eventually won in four sets by a score of 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, giving Djokovic his 12th major title and making him the first player to simultaneously own all four major titles since Rod Laver in 1969.
“It was flawless tennis. I really felt like I played on a high quality,” said Djokovic.
The Serb, so excited to win that one major title that had remained out of his grasp throughout his career, called it “a thrilling moment. One of the most beautiful I have had in my career.”
Djokovic, who had beaten Murray in 12 of their past 14 matches, attacked first, breaking at love to open up the match before Murray turned the tables. Two breaks in a row with a hold at love in between gave Murray a 3-1 lead, and he didn’t look back from there as not much went against serve from that moment on. Three holds later and Murray was two sets away from his third major title.
“Nerves kicked in. I needed a little bit of time to really find the right rhythm and start to play the way I intended,” said Djokovic.
The No. 1 player in the world wasn’t going to go down that easy, though, and the second set was all his as he was able to find that right rhythm. After saving a break point in the first game of the set, Djokovic completely dominated. Murray was broken in two of his three service games, and the one in which he was not broken he fought off a break point and was taken to deuce. The Serb also only lost three points total in his last three service games, completing the recipe of how to win a set 6-1.
The third set was more of the same as Djokovic broke Murray twice. There was more difficulty on serve in the set for the Serb as he lost at least two points in each of his service games, while being taken to deuce twice. In one of those deuce games, Djokovic staved off four break points, making the statement that he would not be missing out on another opportunity to win his first French Open.
With a break to open up the fourth set, Djokovic had all but finished off the No. 2 player in the world. After losing only one point on serve total in his next three service games and taking Murray to deuce twice, Djokovic earned a 0-40 lead at 4-2 and capitalized on his first opportunity to break and set up a chance to serve for the title.
The Brit was able to show some signs of life as he broke Djokovic and consolidated his serve to extend the match, but it just delayed the inevitable. In the next game, Djokovic was able to hold to close out the match, finally earning the right to call himself a French Open champion.
“In the last point, I don’t even remember what happened…it’s like my spirit left my body” said Djokovic.
With this title, the 29-year old has become just the eighth man in history to complete the career grand slam, solidifying his right to be in the conversation of the greatest tennis players of all time.
by Kevin Craig
Andy Murray dethroned the defending French Open champion Stan Wawrinka on Friday with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win.
Murray, who became the first player from Great Britain to reach the French Open in 79 years after Bunny Austin did so in 1937, played an almost perfect match as he reached his first French Open final and his 10th major final overall.
“I played one of my best matches here today,” said Murray in his post-match interview on court.
The No. 2 seed Murray, who had to battle from a two sets to love deficit in the first round against Radek Stepanek and a two sets to one deficit to a French wild card in the second round, has been able to gain confidence throughout his run to the final and return to the form that saw him win the title in Rome just before the French Open began.
That form from Murray was at peak levels on Friday against a player who reached his own peak levels of form in the French Open final in 2015 as Wawrinka put on a masterclass performance to snatch the title and the calendar grand slam from Novak Djokovic last year.
When Wawrinka, who was on a 12-match win streak at Roland Garros, held at love and forced Murray to take 11 minutes to hold his first service game, it looked like things may very well be in the favor of the Suisse in the early stages. This may not have been surprising at all to fans of Wawrinka as he had won his last three matches against Murray and had never lost a set to him on clay.
That feeling quickly changed though as Murray was able to save a break point before breaking Wawrinka in the next game, eventually leading 3-1.
The rest of the set was pretty straight forward until Murray served to close out the set as he was forced to fend off three break points before taking the one set lead.
It was all Murray in the second set as he broke Wawrinka at love for a 2-1 lead before breaking again two games later, eventually closing out the set 6-2, losing just three points on serve in the set that lasted only 27 minutes.
Murray continued to roll on serve in the third set, holding at love in his first three service games. The problem for the Brit was he was unable to convert the one break point he saw in the set, and Wawrinka was able to take advantage of the first poor service game Murray played since the beginning of the match, fighting back from 40-15 and winning four points in a row to break and win the set.
Wawrinka stealing the third set just delayed the inevitable as Murray’s roll went right over that minor speed bump as he was able to break in the first game of the fourth set. Murray had zero trouble on serve in the fourth set, losing just four points in four games, including a hold at love to close out the match and clinch his spot in the final.
“Stan has been unbelievable the last two years. I’ve played one of my best matches today…I’m just really proud. I never expected to reach the final here…Hopefully I can put up a good match in the final,” said Murray.
Murray’s impressive fitness level and ability to hit effective groundstrokes from anywhere on the court were on full display, as he looks like he can pose a very dangerous threat to Djokovic in this year’s final.
by Kevin Craig
French wild card Mathias Bourgue gave Andy Murray another scare at the French Open on Wednesday as he forced the two-time major champion to five sets. Murray, who had to come back from two sets to love down to beat Radek Stepanek in the first round, had to fight back from a two sets to one hole in the second round, eventually earning the 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.
The No. 2 seeded Murray was not only battling the spirited wild card, but also the French faithful on Court Philippe-Chatrier who gave their full support to Bourgue throughout the match as he gave the crowd much more to cheer for than anticipated.
The match began as most would have expected as Murray raced out to a 6-2, 2-0 lead, but that was where the match turned on its head as Bourgue was able to roll off a six-game win streak, taking the set and leveling the match at one set all.
The Frenchman was able to battle back thanks to a dip in concentration for Murray that led to him making too many unforced errors. “It wasn’t like I was not there mentally, but I just couldn’t find the court,” said Murray.
Bourgue, a 22 year-old who is currently ranked No. 164 in the world, continued his hot streak into the third set and outplayed Murray, utilizing a variety of shots to get the job done.
The sense was present throughout the match that Murray would be able to battle back and find a way to pull out the win, like he has shown so many times before throughout his career. That was the case as Murray was able to begin controlling his shots more in the fourth set, limiting his unforced error count to just three in the set and finding a way to assert himself on the court.
The fifth set was more of the same as the much more experienced Murray continued his roll in the fifth set, attacking the youth and inexperience of Bourgue to earn two breaks and close out the match.
Murray highly praised the young Frenchman for his performance on Wednesday, but clearly stated his disappointment with his own level of play. “Today certainly wasn’t easy. I lost my way on the court today for quite a while…You can’t continue playing matches like that and then expect to win the tournament” said Murray.
The Brit will take on big serving Ivo Karlovic in the third round. Karlovic had a scare himself in the second round, as he was forced to play 22 games in the fifth set of his matchup with Australian Jordan Thompson, eventually pulling out the 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 12-10 win.
Another Frenchman in action on Wednesday was on the opposite end of the potential upset bid as Gilles Simon battled back from two sets to love down to beat Argentine Guido Pella, 4-6, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-4.
Pella, who is having a career year after having reached his career his career high ranking of No. 39 in March, raced out two a two sets lead and looked to be in complete control of the match. After going up a break in the third set and having a 3-1 lead, Pella was just three games away from his first third round appearance at a major, but the battle tested Simon needed to give his French faithful something to cheer for.
After going down 3-1, Simon won six of the next eight games, breaking Pella back to take the third set and keep the match alive.
Pella’s upset bid was far from over, though, as he broke in the first game of the fourth set and held a 4-2 lead before Simon was once again able to break late in the set to get back on serve, eventually forcing a tiebreak. The Argentine’s hopes looked to be crushed in that fourth set tiebreak as Simon raced out to a 5-0 lead and eventually won 7-4 to force a deciding fifth set.
The battle continued into the fifth set as each player was forced to battle in their service games, including at 2-2 where Simon had two break points and took advantage of the second one to begin his closing out of the match.
When the Frenchman served for it at 5-4, Pella showed just how much of a battler he is. A 22-point game ensued and Pella had a look at three break points, but Simon was too good and came up clutch as he saved all of them and finished off the comeback win to the delight of the Parisian crowd.
Simon’s epic win sets up a battle in the third round with Viktor Troicki.