Second seed Andy Murray survived his second successive five-set French Open battle to reach the third round Wednesday, avoiding what would have been his worst Grand Slam loss in eight years.
Murray, three times a semi-finalist, wore down France's world number 164 Mathias Bourgue, who had never won a tour-level match before this week, 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and goes on to face 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic for a place in the last 16.
After coming back from two sets to love down to beat Radek Stepanek, also 37, in the first round in a tie played over two days, the British star had looked down and out once again on Wednesday.
After pocketing the third set, 22-year-old Bourgue, reduced to tears by the end, had break points for a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
But once they were squandered, the Frenchman's challenge quickly wilted as the physically stronger Murray raced away with 12 of the last 15 games.
As an indication of his struggles, Wednesday was the first time since the US Open in 2005 that Murray had played two successive five-set matches at the Slams.
At the end of the third set, I just thought 'what happened?'. I was 6-2, 2-0 ahead. He was then unbelievable and I found it hard just to win points. But I have played these matches many times. I just tried to fight through.
Bourgue was seen nibbling a Twix chocolate bar during the match to boost his energy -- having asked originally for a Mars.
Meanwhile, defending champion and third seed Stan Wawrinka defeated New York-born Taro Daniel of Japan 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-4 and goes on to face France's Jeremy Chardy.
In the women's event, second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a quarter-finalist in 2013, beat Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the Strasbourg champion last weekend, 6-2, 6-4.
Feature image source: AFP