ANDY MURRAY vowed to continue his French Open campaign despite the back problems that almost forced him to quit during his dramatic victory over Jarkko Nieminen yesterday.
The world No. 4 has been struggling with a niggling back issue all year but it was a back spasm, which he felt when he woke up yesterday morning, that caused the trouble.
Murray looked certain to be heading home for a set and a half, barely able to move or serve, but he ignored his own doubts about whether he should carry on and turned things around to triumph 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
The Scot is due to play Santiago Giraldo in the third round tomorrow, and he is adamant he will be on the court.
He said: “I’m going to try and carry on regardless, whether it’s a bit sorer, I’m going to carry on. I’ll just try and do all the right things to recover as best as possible.
“I’m not doing myself any actual damage by playing with what I have. I have had all the best advice from some of the top surgeons and physios. I’m confident that I’m doing the right thing.”
Murray has so far declined to reveal what the original back problem is, but to hear him mention surgeons is a concern, even if he insists he is not risking his health by playing on.
The 25-year-old’s main feeling afterwards was shock that he had managed to come through and that Nieminen had allowed him a way back.
“I didn’t find it that satisfying,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe I had won. I guess when you’re in that position, especially in a grand slam, emotionally it’s pretty challenging, because you’re only one or two points away from having to stop. I couldn’t believe I was in a position to win at the end of the fourth set, so I was starting to get a bit edgy. Rather than it being satisfying, it was just quite emotional.”
Marathon man John Isner was at it again in the second round of the French Open but this time there was no happy ending as he was beaten 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16 by Paul-Henri Mathieu.
It was the most games played in a singles match at Roland Garros in the tie-break era and the second longest clash ever after the two-day epic between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004 that lasted six hours and 33 minutes.
Clement had already made headlines yesterday after playing his last singles match at the tournament at the age of 34, so it was fitting his record should once again come into the spotlight.
Isner is, of course, most famous for his victory over Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon two years ago that went all the way to 70-68 in the fifth set.
That took 11 hours and five minutes; this was somewhat speedier at five hours and 41 minutes but was certainly not short on drama, and provided a lovely moment for the winner, who missed the whole of 2011 after knee surgery.
Crucially for Isner he was not serving first in the decider, as he had been at Wimbledon, but he hung on gamely, saving three match points at 10-11 and two more at 14-15.
But Mathieu, ranked 261st in the world, kept pressing and, after seeing a sixth chance go begging, he finally took one, Isner firing a forehand just wide.
The Frenchman said: “I did not even believe I won the match. I thought it was not going to finish.
“So I’m really happy with the win. First of all, I was happy to play again on this court, because I didn’t play for so long. So first, I enjoyed the moment. But, of course, when you win, it’s better.”