Andy Murray avoided suffering his earliest grand slam defeat for eight years by clawing his way into the French Open third round with a five-set win over swashbuckling French journeyman Mathias Bourgue on Wednesday.
The British second seed, who survived a five-set thriller in the first round, eventually triumphed 6-2 2-6 4-6 6-2 6-3.
Murray appeared to be on course for an easy victory when he was a set and 2-0 up against the 164th-ranked wildcard who had never played a Tour-level match before this week.
But the Scot went into a mid-match meltdown as Bourgue won eight games in a row, including 16 successive points, by torturing his more celebrated rival with a mix of devilish dropshots, flying forehands and venomous volleys.
The 22-year-old Frenchman kept up his antics to take the third set before Murray’s survival skills finally kicked in.
After saving three break points in the opening game of the fourth set, which dragged on for 10 minutes, Murray found a way to crack Bourgue’s serve for a 3-1 lead and then clung on to secure the victory.
Murray’s life is unlikely to get much easier in the next round as he will face 37-year-old big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic, the oldest man to reach the third round of a grand slam for 25 years, for a place in the last 16.