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French Open: Andy Murray tops Radek Stepanek in five sets, comments on tough match

By The Sports Xchange
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French Open: Andy Murray tops Radek Stepanek in five sets, comments on tough match
Andy Murray of the United Kingdom hits a shot during his French Open men's first round match against Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic at Roland Garros in Paris on May 24, 2016. Murray defeated Stepanek 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 in a match that stretched over two days to advance to the second round. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

It took nearly four hours over two days, but the world's No. 2 player, Andy Murray, finally advanced out of the first round at the French Open.

Down two sets to love, the mentally drained two-time Grand Slam champ found a way to rally and beat 37-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek, 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5.

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While Murray lived to play another day, it was Stepanek who stole the show. The fans showed their appreciation and Murray tipped his cap to the veteran Czech, who just last year missed eight months because of a serious sciatic nerve injury.

"I did need all my fighting spirit out there, both (Tuesday) and (Monday) night," Murray said. "I know, playing a fifth set, anything could happen."

Monday was dark and damp and Murray was on the cusp of being part of history. Stepanek would have been the oldest player to win a Grand Slam match.

But Murray survived and held a break at 4-2 up in the fourth set when play resumed on Tuesday.

Stepanek would not go quietly. He was relentless, placing shots with precision that and attacking the net judiciously. He was just two points from the win when Murray served at 5-4 in the final set.

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But Murray held serve and then broke Stepanek. Murray could breathe a sigh of relief when Stepanek's volley landed in the net.

"It's unbelievable what he' been doing," Murray said after the three hour and 41 minute match. "I don't expect to be doing that at his age," he admitted.

The telling stat: Stepanek hit more winners -- 57 to 39 -- but also committed 74 unforced errors to Murray?s 35. Murray also recorded 14 aces.

Stepanek was forced to qualify for the French because the world's former No. 8 missed so much time last year.

Murray doesn't get much time to rest. He takes on the Mathias Bourgue in the second round on Wednesday. The 22-year-old Bourgue is ranked No. 164.

In other key matches that had been completed Tuesday:

Spain's Rafael Nadal (4) defeated Australian Sam Groth, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1

American John Isner (15) defeated Australian John Millman, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-5

On the women's side:

Australian Sam Stosur (21) defeated China's Misaki Doi, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3

Italian Francesca Schiavone defeated France's Kiki Mladenovic 6-2, 6-4

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Canadian Eugenie Bouchard defeated German Laura Siegemund, 6-2, 6-2

German Tatjana Maria defeated Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

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