Murray vs. Gasquet – French Open 1st Round – Roland Garros 2010

Posted on May 27, 2010

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Andy Murray produced a superb comeback in his first round match at this year’s French Open, coming from two sets and a break down to beat Richard Gasquet of France 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. Both players produced some superb tennis during the 4 hours 4 minutes on court, with Gasquet showing the kind of form which once made him a top 10 player. The Frenchman’s back-hand is exquisite, but when Murray hits the ball like he did today, it makes it very difficult for opponents to deal with him.

Gasquet came into the match with 2 tournament wins in as many weeks. He won a Challenger event in Bordeaux before moving on to Nice and winning there, beating the excellent Fernando Verdasco in the final. As a consequence, his confidence was high, and during the first two sets he was ripping winners from all over the court. Murray wasn’t playing particularly badly but Gasquet’s back-hand offered such finesse and potency that he was often forced to watch as balls flew past him. Murray found himself two sets down and staring down the barrel of defeat when Gasquet broke him midway through the third. The writing seemed firmly etched upon the wall but one should never write Murray off. He immediately broke back and went on to take the third set 6-4. Murray then took the initiative and began to dominate the Frenchman, with his brilliant defensive game and excellent return of serve causing Gasquet to fatigue badly. Murray sensed his opponent was flagging and began to hit some wonderful winners. There is such range in Murray’s game, meaning his opponents often struggle to figure out the best line of attack. Defensively, he is one of the best in the world, consistently forcing the ball back into play when there is seemingly no hope of doing so. He also has so many weapons when he attacks, with the most effective drop-shot in the world and the capability of hitting winners off either wing. If he can up his first serve percentage, which was again too low here, and continue to play at this level for the remainder of this year’s Roland Garros, he could go further than most people first thought.

This wasn’t the first time these two had been involved in a five set thriller, with this latest battle proving to be an uncanny reprise of their match at the 2008 Wimbledon championships.  Murray came back from two sets down then and that soul-destroying experience appeared to weigh on Gasquet’s mind here in Paris as he once again wilted under the pressure exerted by Murray. The level of the play in their 2008 encounter was even higher than this and it seems that these two very gifted players bring the best out of one another.

This was, without doubt, the stand-out first-round match at this year’s French Open, but for some reason the tournament organizers inexplicably decided to play it on Court Suzanne Lenglen rather than the larger Philipe Chatrier. This baffling decision now appears even more unwise given the exciting events that unfolded. When Murray clicks there is barely a finer sight in world tennis and he is gradually returning to the formidable form he showed in 2009 – a sweet sight for all British tennis fans.

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Posted in: Tennis