Murray survives epic to move into quarter-finals
Andy Murray's French Open adventure has another chapter to be written after he won his one-set winner-takes-all shootout with Viktor Troicki on Tuesday.
Murray, not always recognised for displaying a reliable mentality in pressure situations, coped admirably with the overnight stoppage that halted him in full flow on Monday, setting up a date in the quarter-finals with a 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory. He will now face Juan Ignacio Chela in the last eight.
The British No. 1 had worked wonders during the previous 24 hours just to stay in the fourth-round encounter, having trailed Troicki by two sets to love. A pivotal third was where Murray stemmed the tide, before he cruised through the fourth to level at 2-2.
That was where both men downed tools for the evening due to fading light, leaving them a restless night's sleep knowing there would be no margin for error upon resumption of play. So often the circumstances can get the better of an individual, as happened to Tim Henman against Goran Ivanisevic in the 2001 Wimbledon semi-finals, but Murray recovered from the setback of an early break in the fifth set to progess.
If Monday's offering served up a match of contrasting fortunes, with Troicki dominant in the first two sets but desperate by the time of the eventual break in play, the resumption on Tuesday instantly saw both men playing right on the edge of their capabilities.
The first point alone lasted more than 20 strokes, won by Troicki, but Murray forced a break point, saved by a delicate drop shot. Next it was the turn of Troicki to threaten on the Brit's serve, but this time Murray found an astonishing backhand down the line for one-game-all.
A breakthrough finally arrived in the sixth game, although only after a bizarre incident that cost Troicki the opening point of the game. Battering Murray into submission, the Serb thought he had moved to 0-15 when he hit a smash winner, only to see out of the corner of his eye that the ball-boy had already run onto court believing the point to be over. The unwanted interruption affected neither player, but the umpire nevertheless ordered the replaying of the point, won by Murray.
Fortunately for Troicki it made little difference as he still managed to break, with Murray leaving far too many balls mid-court. Troicki's ground strokes were carrying more power and he exerted his authority as the world No. 4 sunk the ball into the net to hand his rival a 4-2 advantage.
Murray has a stubborn streak borne out of a winner's mentality though, and he refused to exit the competition in such limp fashion. Having fallen 30-0 down with the serving Troicki two points from victory, the Brit somehow broke back for 4-5.
Suddenly Murray's racket, which he had earlier hit in anger, was responding to every picture created in his head. Two drop shots moved him 0-30 up on the Troicki serve at 5-5, and a lengthy slice into the corner soon made that a 0-40 advantage. Two of those break points were saved, but Troicki buried a backhand into the net to allow Murray to serve for the match, which he did successfully with his best shot of the entire match - a marvellous cross-court backhand from outside of the tramlines.