Andy Murray beat Andrey Kuznetsov
Moreover, they both came in the very same rally. Undoubtedly, though, Andy Murray is back on track.
His 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win against world no. 73 Andrey Kuznetsov took 2 hours and 32 minutes and was not without its mishaps.
Most notably when Murray conceded, somewhat tepidly, the second set amid a flurry of barbed comments to his box, ironic handclaps and general disgruntlement, the match seemed like it could go either way.
Then came the moment of magic that transformed him back from snarling, out-of-touch worrier back into the world No 1.
Second point of the second game of the third set, Kuznetsov executed a seemingly perfect drop shot. Except that Murray – the old Andy Murray – somehow got there.
When his desperate scoop was lobbed back over his head, he still had to chase it though. That was the first turn.
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I started to feel a bit better as the match went on
Hunting down the ball, he sent it rocketing into the Parisian sky, higher than the Eiffel Tower. Murray span – the second turn – in plenty of time to see the ball plop back into the clay in the corner of Kuznetsov’s court and the crestfallen Russian smash it disbelievingly into the net.
Murray won the next eight points, and ultimately the third set. Then an immediate break in the fourth set him finally on his way as Kuznetsov was forced to hit more and more wildly just to find some corner of the court Murray could not get to.
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When the Scot had been about to hit his second serve at 0-40 down in the very first game of the day against Kuznetsov, those worried about the mental and physical condition of the world No 1 were already on the edge of their seats.
What a tease! He duly rattled off the next five points to open his account and the prospect of the French Open singles tournaments being robbed of both their number ones in the first round slowly ebbed away.
By the end it was exhibition stuff from Murray. Having toyed mercilessly with Kuznetsov in another scintillating rally to set up match point he clinched it with a backhand into the corner before punching the air in determined fashion.
“He goes for his shots and plays very aggressively,” Murray said, “and it was quite windy today and that can make things quite difficult. I started to feel a bit better as the match went on.
“Last year was a great year for me – the best I have ever played here. Each year I keep coming back trying to do a bit better and I reached No 1 in Paris here as well, so I will try to have another long run here.”