“It’s unbelievable what he’s been doing,” Andy Murray said of Radek Stepanek after coming back to beat the 37-year-old Czech, 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5, on Tuesday at Roland Garros. “I don’t expect to be doing that at his age.”
After spending three hours and 41 minutes, and the better part of two days, throwing deft drop shots and fiery fist-pumps at each other in Court Philippe Chatrier, Murray and Stepanek finished with a long hug and a happy chat at the net. As the Roland Garros website put it afterward:
ANDY MURRAY SALUTES THE IRREPRESSIBLE 37-YEAR-OLD RADEK STEPANEK
Eighteen hours earlier, that headline would have been pretty much unthinkable. During the fourth set on Monday, as the light died in Chatrier and Murray raced to come back from a two-set deficit, he wasn’t saluting Stepanek. He was accusing him of stalling, so that the match would be stopped for the night.
“Keep an eye out for how long that toilet break takes,” a frustrated Murray warned chair umpire Damien Dumusois as a conspicuously slow-moving Stepanek moseyed off to the bathroom. Murray’s frustration morphed toward apoplexy when, 10 minutes later, Stepanek wandered back out and only then decided that he was going to change his shirt.