Andy Murray is through to the second round of the 2016 French Open despite being given an almighty scare by veteran Radek Stepanek at Roland Garros. After bad light called a halt to play on Monday night, the match resumed on Tuesday (24 May) with the Czech qualifier leading by two sets to one but his opponent mounting a spirited fightback having taken the third set to love and secured a 4-2 advantage in the fourth.
Murray swiftly levelled proceedings at 6-3, teeing up a nail-biting deciding set that saw the world number two serve to stay alive ahead of sealing a crucial break. He was then taken to deuce by an impressively resilient Stepanek and wasted one match point before finally escaping with an exhausting 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory.
"It is unbelievable what he is doing," the two-time Grand Slam winner, who parted company with coach Amelie Mauresmo before the tournament, was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "He had a bad injury last year yet at 37 is still coming out and fighting like he is. I don't expect to be doing that at his age. I am just pleased to have got through.
"He has always been extremely difficult to play. He hardly missed any volleys – until the one on match point and even that nearly got over – hit a lot of drop shots and hit the ball very flat, and that made it very hard for me to dictate and get any rhythm. I had a bit of momentum yesterday. But I had to fight extremely hard today."
Murray will not be the sole British representative in the second round, with Kyle Edmund having beaten Nikoloz Basilashvili, Heather Watson seeing off Nicole Gibbs and Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene advancing past Austria's Gerald Melzer in four sets. Naomi Broady fell to Coco Vandeweghe on Monday, while Laura Robson and Johanna Konta begin their respective campaigns on Tuesday afternoon against Andrea Petkovic and Julia Goerges.
Elsewhere on day three, women's third seed and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was surprisingly eliminated in three sets by Dutch right-hander Kiki Bertens. Nine-time winner Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, breezed past Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in less time than it took Murray to win one set.