It doesnt matter how contrasting the surfaces are,the thumb rule is,whenever John Isner of the USA takes on a Frenchman in a Grand Slam,the match turns out to be an epic one. While Thursdays battle against Paul-Henri Mathieu wasnt as pathbreaking as his match against Nicolas Mahut in Wimbledon 2010 (where the eight hour plus final set scoreline was 70-68),the packed crowds at the Philippe Chatrier did witness a French Open record for most games played in a match in the Open Era 77.
And this time around,Frenchman Mathieu finished victorious in the 34 game deciding set,winning the battle over the giant American 6-7,6-4,6-4,3-6,18-16. In the process,Mathieu progressed to the third round,where he will take on Malek Jaziri from Tunisia or Marcel Granollers from Spain.
Despite the sheer length of this encounter,the match of the day was played out between fourth seed Andy Murray and Finn Jarrko Nieminen. Grimacing in pain with almost every step,Murray nearly had to call it quits Thursday because of a bad back. Instead,the fourth-seeded Brit rebounded from an awful first set and a break down in the second to beat Nieminen 1-6,6-4,6-1,6-2 and reach the third round.
Murray could barely walk straight when the match started on Philippe Chatrier,gingerly trotting around the red clay with the equivalent of a big target on his back. Nieminen took advantage.
But after losing the first four games,Murray called for a trainer. He then broke back to 4-1,and needed more treatment during the changeover.
The first set was over quickly,and Murray took yet another break for treatment. That one really seemed to do the trick. Despite being broken to open the second set,Murray started to move better and make his shots count. By the time he broke back to even that score at 4-4,Murray was the one getting stronger.
Nadal breezes through
Meanwhile,defending mens champion Rafael Nadal,who is gunning for a record-breaking seventh title on the Paris clay,destroyed Uzbekistans Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2 6-0 to reach the third round on Thursday. Although he reckoned his first serve still needs some adjustments,Nadal,who has lost only once at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005,was happy on all accounts.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova reached the third round by beating Urszula Radwanska of Poland 6-1,6-3. The fourth-seeded Czech was never really troubled,saving all three break points she faced.
Ro-Hesh crash out
The Indian pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna crashed out of the French Open mens doubles event after losing to French duo of Marc Gicquel and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the opening round on Thursday.
The sixth-seeded Indians were handed defeat by the unseeded Frenchmen,who came from a set down to snatch the match 1-6 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 35 minutes.