PARIS (Reuters) - Third seed Andy Murray overcame his first mini-crisis at this year’s French Open to beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 on Thursday and move into the third round.
The twice semi-finalist took his winning run on clay to 12 matches, starting and finishing the second round clash in fine style, but there was a period in the middle when it went awry.
The 28-year-old Briton had looked in control against an opponent he had never dropped a set to, but in the eighth game of the second he was broken to love and also received a time violation warning from French umpire Pascal Maria.
He immediately broke back but serving at 4-5, 15-30 Sousa came up with a perfect drop shot to earn two set points and converted the first with a smash on to the baseline.
Sousa, the first Portuguese man to win a Tour-level title, had break points early in the third set with Murray rattled, but he wasted one with a rushed forehand return and then saw a Murray ace disappear down the middle line on the second.
Murray raised his game, broke at 3-3 and took control from then on, moving on to an eye-catching third round match against Australian trailblazer Nick Kyrgios.
“He played very well at the end of the second set and the beginning of the third, so I had to weather the storm,” Murray, who is tipped to be a serious challenger this year, told kilt-wearing interviewer Fabrice Santoro on court.
Kyrgios, the 29th seed, enjoyed a day off after British opponent Kyle Edmund withdrew with a stomach injury.
Asked later about the time violation, Murray accepted that he can play “too slowly” but said he had been waiting for the screen to stop showing the point before.
“There were points today where I got told I was playing too slow and I tried to speed up,” Murray said.
“And I did. But that one point obviously the second time it happened, I was up at the line in good time, and I didn’t serve because they were still playing the highlight from the point before.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Tim Collings and Julien Pretot