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Murray battles through pain barrier

sports Updated: Jun 01, 2012 02:10 IST
Andy Murray


Andy Murray, grimacing in pain, battled his way into the third round of the French Open on Thursday by defeating Jarkko Nieminen 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 despite back problems.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal's progress was rather more swift. The Spaniard, aiming for a record seventh French Open title, thrashed Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-2, 6-0.

Nadal and Murray were joined in the third round by French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who returned to complete a match suspended overnight because of rain and finished off German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Murray was a semi-finalist last year - his best result at the claycourt grand slam - but looked to be heading for an early exit in the first set of his match on Philippe Chatrier court.

He summoned the trainer three times and lay, with his teeth clenched, as his back was massaged, then got up again to move stiffly around the court. At changeovers, he stayed on his feet rather than sitting down.

Nieminen, however, was unable to take advantage and as the match progressed, and Murray loosened up and started going for more shots, the 48th-ranked Finn began hitting unforced errors.

When he hit a backhand out to give Murray breakpoint at 2-4 in the fourth set, Nieminen dashed his racket to the ground and stamped on it. His next action was a double fault and Murray found himself serving for the match.

Though Nieminen saved one matchpoint with a winning service return, Murray hit a service winner on the second and will now play Colombian Santiago Giraldo, who knocked out 25th seed Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-4 6-1 6-3.

Murray said his problem was probably a back spasm and, with the sanction of his physiotherapist, he planned to play on.

"I'm not doing myself any actual damage by playing with what I have," he told a news conference. "I have had all the best advice from some of the top surgeons and physios. I'm confident that I'm doing the right thing."

Nadal has lost only nine games in the first two rounds here but, after spending less than two hours, said he still had things to work on despite his impressive form.