Paris, May 31
Grimacing in pain with almost every step, Andy Murray nearly had to call it quits Thursday because of a bad back at the French Open.
Instead, the fourth-seeded Brit rebounded from an awful first set to beat Jarkko Nieminen 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the third round.
Murray could barely walk straight when the match started on Court Philippe Chatrier, gingerly trotting around the red clay with the equivalent of a big target on his back. Nieminen took advantage, at the beginning.
Despite being broken to open the second set, Murray started to move better and make his shots count. By the time he broke back to even that score at 4-4, Murray was the one getting stronger.
Last year, Murray injured his right ankle at the French Open, but he still made the semifinals. This year, he skipped the Madrid Open with a back problem and said it was still affecting him after a three-set loss to Richard Gasquet in the third round of the Italian Open.
Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, while sixth seed David Ferrer of Spain coasted past Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
Another South American claycourter to make it through was 13th seed Juan Monaco of Argentina who stopped Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7/4), 6-0, 7-6 (7/5).
Rising Canadian player Milos Raonic defeated qualifier Jesse Levine 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 meaning that five days into the tournament John Isner is the only surviving American player.
Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the third round beating Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia 6-1, 6-4 Thursday. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also reached the third round, beating Urszula Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 6-3.
The ninth-seeded Dane, who last year spent all but one week as the No. 1-ranked player, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam title.
At Roland Garros, Wozniacki has never been past the quarterfinals, losing at that stage in 2010.
Kvitova secured her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, and then won the WTA Championships. Although she has yet to win a title in 2012, she is seeded fourth in Paris and is expected to go deep into the tournament.
Radwanska is the younger sister of third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska. The elder sibling reached the third round on Wednesday by beating seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.
Williams was on the wrong end of a lopsided 60-minute defeat in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.
Looking glum and lacking the verve that carried her to seven Grand Slam titles, Williams barely put up any resistance and lost 6-2, 6-3 to No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at Roland Garros.
Coming a day after her younger sister Serena was stunned in a first-round loss to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France, the early exit marked the first time in 43 major tournaments with both in the field that neither Williams got to the third round.
"I felt like I played," Williams said after making 33 unforced errors, 27 more than Radwanska. "That pretty much sums it up."