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French Open Sport Tennis

Murray battles past Stepanek in cliffhanger, Nadal races through

Second seed Andy Murray scraped through against Radek Stepanek at Roland Garros

Andy Murray survived a nervy fifth-set decider against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek to complete a 3-6 3-6 6-0 6-3 7-5 comeback win and scrape into the French Open second round on Tuesday.

The second seed had been tormented by the 37-year-old Stepanek the previous evening, being outplayed in the opening two sets, but had repaired some of the damage before play was suspended with him leading 4-2 in the fourth set.

On the resumption Murray survived two break points in his opening service game before levelling the match but a reinvigorated and inspired Stepanek refused to go away quietly, producing some inspired shot-making.

Briton Murray was two points from defeat when serving at 4-5 but held his nerve and broke in the next game.

Murray double-faulted on his first match point but sealed victory, the ninth of his career from a two-set deficit, when Stepanek netted an attempted drop-volley two points later.

Murray sportingly applauded Stepanek off the court as the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd showed their appreciation for the efforts of the oldest man in the men’s draw.

Murray, three-times a semi-finalist at Roland Garros, next faces French wildcard Mathias Bourge.

Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal started his quest for a record-breaking 10th French Open title in merciless fashion, demolishing Australian Sam Groth 6-1 6-1 6-1.

The fourth-seeded Spaniard, who will play either Argentine Facundo Bagnis or French qualifier Kenny de Schepper in the second round, played flawless tennis throughout, making only three unforced errors in a one-sided match.

Nadal, who turns 30 next week, has won two titles on clay this season, including the Monte Carlo Masters in April.

He ended his opponent’s misery with a trademark cross-court forehand winner on his second match point on Court Suzanne Lenglen

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