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French Open: Rain washes out Murray versus Isner thriller

By Jacob Akindele |   30 May 2016   |   2:24 am  

Britain’s Andy Murray returns the ball to U.S. player, John Isner, during their men’s fourth round match at the 2016 French Tennis Open… yesterday. PHOTO: AFP.

Andy Murray won the first set and was leading 2-1 in the second when play was suspended on Philippe Chatrier Court at Roland Garros. Predictably, it was a game of offence by the big serving American against the defence of an all-court game by the tournament’s second seeded player. There were few rallies; especially on Isner’s serve.

At four games apiece in the opening set, Isner won four quick points to attain a lead of 5-4. Serving to stay in the set, Murray did not drop a point on his serve.

In the 11th game, the American fell behind 0-15 but leveled with a delicate drop shot. From then, he cruised and held serve to lead 6-5. In the same fashion, Murray won four consecutive points on his serve to send the set to a tie-break.

Serving first, Isner lost the first point, while Murray held his two services to go up 3-0. Isner held his next two serves to reduce the tally, delivering one of his boomers.

He delivered two consecutive aces to level; and took Murray’s next two serves to get set point. A strong serve to the Scot’s backhand elicited a weak return that was drilled deep to the sideline. Somehow, Murray managed to get a winning shot down the line beyond the long wingspan of the lanky American. Isner held to next point to level at eight points apiece. Murray held on to his next two service points to reach set point, but a hard service return drilled directly at him cancelled it.

At nine points all, they changed sides. Murray took the 19th point and broke his opponent’s serve to clinch the tiebreak 11-9.

The second set continued in the same pattern, with each player winning his service game quickly. Murray served first and held without dropping a point and so did Isner. Serving at 1-2, Isner missed a game point, then as he stepped up to serve, raindrops began falling and play was suspended at precisely 17.00 Paris time.

Isner has not won a match against Murray in their previous encounters.

The defending champion, Stan Wawrinka, overcame a stiff challenge by Serbia’s Victor Troicki, 7/6; 6/7; 6/3; 6/2 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

Their match was followed by the epic match of the day between Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, and Kei Nishikori of Japan. The two players have a long history of competing.

In his rising years, Gasquet won their first seven encounters in a period of seven years. The greatly improved Japanese star defeated Gasquet in their first ever clash on clay in April in Madrid at the commencement of the clay season. He followed this with another victory over Gasquet in Rome. It was the matter of a player who had won 13 ATP tournaments but only three on clay, hoping to win his first ever Grandslam in his 13th participation in Rolland Garros.

He had never gone past the fourth round in Paris, but Nishikori reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2015. Clearly the rain prevented continuation of a classic showdown between a player in a period of eclipse and the Japanese on the rise. Nishikori was leading 4-2 in the first set when play was suspended.

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