World number 1 Andy Murray defeated Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-0 in the first round of the 2017 French Open. After having a somewhat lackluster start to the 2017 season, the pressure was on the Scot to assert himself and prove why he was the top player in the world. He had faced his opponent on two previous occasions and won both; the most recent being at the 2016 Beijing Open where he defeated Kuznetsov 6-2 6-1. Kuznetsov himself had a decent showing at the recent Geneva Open, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal. Murray on the other hand had lost to Fabio Fognini 2-6 4-6 in the fourth round at the Rome Masters tournament this month, thus his confidence could not have been very high.
Murray seemed to have a case of the jitters in the first set, as he faced three break points in his opening service game. He however was able to hold thanks to some big serves and great shot placement. Kuznetsov had no problem holding serve, and both men were even till Murray got the break in the sixth game to go up 4-2. He was later broken back by the Russian at 5-3 when serving for the set, but Kuznetsov was unable to keep up with the Scot; who displayed some solid defense to win the first set 6-4 in 44 minutes.
This did not deter the unseeded Russian, as he came out firing in the second set and immediately broke Murray. The world number 1 broke back to level the set at 1-1, but was later broken twice by Kuznetsov who displayed some incredible shot-making to go up 5-2. Murray was able to secure a break but Kuznetsov had momentum on his side and closed out the second set 6-4 in 42 minutes.
Murray had been making an unusual amount of errors, especially by his standards. He seemed to recollect himself and displayed the focus and tenacity which saw him claw his way to the number 1 position. He exhibited solid defense, mixed with exquisite drop shots and forays to the net. Kuznetsov, who had been the more consistent player throughout the match; soon began to fire errant shots and his game began to unravel. He lost control as Murray dictated play and quickly took the next two sets to win the match 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-0 in 2 hours 32 minutes.
Not the best start to a Grand Slam, but the Scot was able to rediscover his form during the match and dispose of his opponent. Murray now faces Slovakian Martin Klizan, who defeated France’s Laurent Lokoli 7-6(4) 6-3 4-6 0-6 6-4 in a match which saw the Frenchman refuse to shake Klizan’s hand at its conclusion. Apparently Klizan displayed bad sportsmanship by yelling and celebrating when Lokoli hit a double fault on break point in the fifth set. It’s unlikely that Klizan will have many fans on his side during his second round encounter.
For complete coverage of Roland Garros, including live play-by-play commentary and match recaps; be sure to follow us here on www.tennis-pulse.com.