Murray launches fightback to slow Stepanek

Paris (AFP) –


World number two Andy Murray launched himself into recovery mode against veteran Radek Stepanek in the French Open first round before play was suspended due to darkness on Monday with the Czech leading by two sets to one.

Murray, who stunned Novak Djokovic to win the Rome Masters last weekend to boost his title hopes, struggled mightily against 37-year-old Stepanek early on before fighting back to 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 4-2 with play to resume on Tuesday.

The second seed relinquished his serve in third game of the first set and was broken again while trying to stay in it as Stepanek, the oldest player in the draw, drew upon his vast experience.

Murray broke to love to start the second set but then immediately lost his own serve and Stepanek, using his craftiness to draw the Scot around the court, broke again at 4-3 to carve out a two-set lead.

Murray though showed his resolve and raced through the third set in just 18 minutes as former world number eight Stepanek began to lose his way in the fading light.

The Scot charged into a 3-0 lead in the fourth set before Stepanek temporarily halted Murray's momentum, but the world number two was well placed to force a decider when play was called off for the evening.