Murray and Wawrinka Barely Survive the First Round of the French Open

This was always going to be a unique Grand Slam with Roger Federer not present but we almost lost two of the top three seeds in the first round as well. Both defending champion Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray had tough matches against Lukas Rosel and Radek Stepanek respectively, in which they eked out five set victories to advance.

If the name Lukas Rosel sounds familiar it’s because he has a history of king killing. In 2012 he was the man to knock Rafa Nadal out of Wimbledon in the round of 64 so he’d been in this situation before. Sure enough, he looked unfazed facing off against the defending champion and took it to Wawrinka in the first set, beating him 6-4. Through three sets, Rosel was winning most of the medium rallies, Wawrinka was serving under 60% on his first serve and Rosel was winning over 60% of points at the net. Wawrinka however, seized control in the final two sets with early breaks in each set, but Rosel battled until the end (evident in the point below) refusing to fold serving at 3-5 in the fifth. For Wawrinka it could be just the wake-up call he needed. If Wawrinka wants to defend his title he’ll need to come out much sharper in his second round match-up against Taro Daniel of Japan. I expect him to cruise in straights.

For Murray, he had to wait a whole day to discover his fate as his match got rained out on Monday as he was trying to close out the fourth set to even the match. Down two sets to the wily Czech veteran, the casual observer may have been tempted to call curtains on Murray’s tournament but for anyone that has watch Murray over the years you’ll know that his game is suited to a grind it out five-setter. As Stepanek peppered Murray with drop shots and slices, Murray continued to counter punch, staying true to his game.

Both players are fiery individuals and were giving each other glares and shouts after just about ever point come the fifth set. Stepanek was even two points away from the win with Murray serving at 4-5 but he couldn’t take advantage of the opening and subsequantly crumbled to the pressure of his next service game. Stepanek’s double fault gifted Murray two break point opportunities and seized the second one to finally take control of the match. I expected Murray to come out firing after he beat Nadal in Rome earlier this month but he’ll need to get back on track. He has two favorable match-ups in the next two rounds but again, sometimes the top players need these sort of wake up calls to propel them for the remainder of the tournament.


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