ANDY MURRAY booked his place in the French Open third round after surviving a feisty encounter against Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1.
Murray was made to feel uncomfortable on Court Philippe Chatrier by a combination of Sousa, who played brilliantly to claim the second set, and French umpire Pascal Maria, who handed the Scot two time-violations for taking too long over his serve.
Frustration made Murray briefly vulnerable, but the British number one regained his composure to seal victory in two hours 30 minutes and advance to a round three match against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios has enjoyed an extra three days rest after Britain’s Kyle Edmund withdrew from their match with an abdominal injury and Murray will be relieved to have escaped the kind of early tournament marathon that harmed his chances last year.
“In the second set and at the start of the third he raised his game a lot,” Murray said after the match.
“I had to tell myself to get through it and weather the storm and hope his level would drop because he was playing extremely well.
“Fortunately I managed to take a few break points and turn it around.”
Sousa, like Murray, learned his trade on the clay-courts of Barcelona but the similarities end there, with the world number 44 losing all five of the pair’s previous meetings.
Murray put his opponent under pressure immediately and after a 13-minute opening game that included seven deuces, he won his fifth break point to strike an early blow.
The Scot was playing with confidence and fluency from the back, which Sousa was unable to match, and another break in the seventh game allowed him to close out the set with ease.
Sousa established a foothold in the second set with a more assertive approach which ruffled Murray, who cursed his inability to execute a number of passing shorts and struggled to find his earlier rhythm.
Mounting frustration reached a climax in the eighth game when umpire Maria handed Murray a time violation as he seemed to wait for the wind to drop, and while Murray tried to calm his aggravation, he could not prevent Sousa breaking to take a 5-3 lead.
The Scot broke back straight away but Sousa instantly returned the favour to seal the second set, his first in six matches against the British number one.
Murray’s troubles deepened in the third game of the third when he was given another time violation, this time costing him a first serve, to which Murray explained he had been waiting for the highlights to stop on the big screen.
Instead of allowing the disruption to affect his play, however, Murray regained his groove, breaking in the seventh game and serving out the set, before breaking for a fifth time in the opening game of the fourth.
As Sousa lost the momentum, Murray grew in confidence and the final set was the most straightforward of all, as the Scot took another break to move comfortably into the next round.
In the women’s singles, Britain’s Heather Watson lost her second round match against America’s Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-4.