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Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 16:39 UK
Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June
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Murray reached the third round at Roland Garros for the first time

British number one Andy Murray showed flashes of brilliance before losing to clay-court specialist Nicolas Almagro in round three of the French Open.

Almagro broke Murray's opening service game and was rarely troubled en route to securing the first set.

Murray battled back to claim the second set on a tie-break and then broke early to take control of the third.

But Almagro won five straight games and the set before breaking twice in the fourth for a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-5 win.

The Spaniard will now play French wildcard Jeremy Chardy who beat Russia's Dmitry Tursunov, the 30th seed, 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 6-4.

Both are opponents Murray, 21, would have been confident of overcoming, but the Scot should nonetheless take heart from his battling performance against Almagro, who dropped to his knees in celebration upon sealing victory.

Appearing in the third round at Roland Garros for the first time following his fine win over Jose Acasuso on Wednesday, Murray overcame a disappointing first set and looked in ominous form.

But the class of Almagro, who has more clay-court wins than any other player in 2008, eventually proved overwhelming.

I want to try to win Wimbledon - I'm not saying it's going to happen, but if I play my best tennis, I can win

Andy Murray

"I think I proved I'm a good clay court player," said Murray. "You saw by the way that he reacted at the end of the match that it was a tough match.

"To win against me on clay, it is a very good result - I'm not someone that's going to be taken lightly on this surface in the future.

"I believe that I'm going to be one of the top players on clay in a couple years. I just need a bit more experience, a bit more strength and understanding of how to play and I'll be up there with the best players."

Almagro, seeded 19, has won clay-court titles in Brazil and Mexico and now boasts 28 wins on the surface this year.

After holding serve comfortably in the first game, the 22-year-old punished Murray for his failure to land a single first serve as he broke for a 2-0 lead.

The variety Almagro was able to generate from his venomous forehand allowed him to conserve energy and forced Murray to work tirelessly just to keep points alive.

But, having been angered by a suspect line call that aided Almagro in closing out the first set, Murray's response in the second was impressive and a series of winners raised the spirits of both himself and the crowd.

He began to counter Almagro's heavy hitting and it took two consecutive aces and some desperate shot-making from the Spaniard to save three break points in the fourth game.

Murray, too, had to show grit, fighting his way back from 0-40 down in the ninth game with two wonderful volleys to stay in the set.

Two timely aces helped Murray wrap up the tie-break and it looked as if the Scot had worn down his lesser-ranked opponent.

He took the initiative by breaking the Almagro serve in the third game, the Spaniard struggling with a tricky lob and putting his overhead between the tramlines.

Crucially, Almagro broke back, this time a precise lob doing the damage and suddenly the momentum was swinging his way, his superior knowledge of the surface proving pivotal.

A couple of Murray volleys dumped into the net saw Almagro break again and he duly served out to take the set and control of the match.

The fourth set saw Murray lose his first service game with a wild forehand, but then show admirable spirit to break back when Almagro served for victory in the 10th game.

But Almagro's relentless pressure, power and guile immediately told as he broke back and then served out the match.

Murray's attentions now turn to the grass court season and the increased expectations of Wimbledon.

"I want to try to win the tournament. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but I believe that if I play my best tennis, I can win," said Murray, who did not compete at the All England Club in 2007 because of a wrist injury.

"I've won against a lot of the top players. Not as many guys play so well on grass. If you can get through the first few rounds and work your way into the tournament, there's no reason why not."

see also
Murray v Almagro as it happened
30 May 08 |  Tennis
Murray v Acasuso as it happened
28 May 08 |  Tennis

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