Andy Murray eases past Juan Ignacio Chela in Paris
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Impressive Murray beats Chela in Paris
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Roland Garros
British number one Andy Murray finally overcame Juan Ignacio Chela and the Paris weather to reach the third round of the French Open.
The 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 victory came over 24 hours and four passages of rain-interrupted play, and it takes the Scot through to face 25th seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who earlier beat Spain's Marcel Granollers 4-6 6-1 7-5 6-2.
That third-round match is scheduled to be the fourth on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday at around 1400 BST.
Rain had disrupted much of Wednesday's schedule and it was already settled in again when play was due to start on Thursday, forcing a frustrating delay of four hours before day five could truly get under way.
Murray and Chela resumed at 5.11pm local time , having been forced off as darkness fell at 8.29pm the night before with Murray leading by a set and 3-3, but only a further nine points and one game would be played before the rain returned.
Murray began act three in style, reeling off four straight points to hold serve from 0-15 and level the scores at 4-4 in the second set.
Chela has lost to Murray in five of their previous six meetings
A nerveless drive-volley in game 11 then gave the Scot a break point and a first glimpse at the finish line, but his backhand was not functioning at its best and an error allowed Chela off the hook.
It would prove costly as the Argentine dominated the tie-break that followed, converting his second set point when a Murray forehand flew long.
With the weather taking another turn for the worse, the players were forced off again at 6.54pm with the score tied at 1-1 in the fourth set.
It was back to square one for Murray who, just like the night before, found himself trooping back to the locker room knowing a golden chance to take a decisive lead had slipped away, and there was now the very real possibility that the match would slide into a third day.
The rain relented again some 40 minutes later and, on a now gloomy and half-empty Court One, disaster struck for the Briton when another backhand error gave Chela the break for 3-2.
Crosswords saved Murray from rain delay boredom
However, it appeared to galvanise Murray more than the Argentine and he recovered the deficit immediately, thanks in part to a killer drop shot that would become a feature of the latter stages of the match.
Murray finally took control of proceedings with a break in game eight of the third set, earning three break points and moving clear of the tenacious Chela by chasing down a drop shot and guiding a backhand down the line.
Almost exactly 24 hours after the match had got under way Murray served out confidently for a two sets to one lead, and the gathering darkness was now almost as big a threat to the Briton as his opponent.
A lightning-quick reaction volley and a sharp drop shot helped him to a break at the start of the fourth set and Murray then saved two break points in game two.
The fourth seed told himself to "calm down, relax" after one ambitious return and, with British voices increasingly audible in the sparse crowd, he got a vital double-break with a forehand winner to lead 5-2.
I chased a lot of balls down and played better as the match went on, I was just quite nervous and tense at the restart
At 20.55pm, Murray swept away a cross-court backhand winner to end a gruelling encounter, and it was only the flashlights of the spectator's cameras that illuminated his final departure from a desperately dark Court One. Murray later admitted that he had struggled to find any rhythm with so many stops and starts.
"After the rain delays I felt slow right at the beginning," he said. "I warmed up well as always, but when you're waiting around all day you feel a little bit lethargic.
"But once I got into some long rallies and spent more time on court I thought I played really well, especially towards the end of the match.
"I chased a lot of balls down and played better as the match went on, I was just quite nervous and tense at the restart."
Playing in fading light for a second day in succession also posed a relatively new challenge to the Scot.
"It got dark quick today, and at the end of the match I was lucky I managed to get another break because I think, max, we would have had two games left," he added. "That was what was quite tough yesterday.
"You need to stay focused the whole time but you know when you go on there's no chance off you finishing the match, so once you get ahead it may be normal to press or rush a little bit.
"Today, coming off the court sometimes for 15 minutes or a little bit longer, it's tough to get into a rhythm.
"It's a difficult thing to do and I've only have it once before in my career against Rafa (Nadal, US Open semi-final, 2008) where it was two sets to one and it got rained off for the day. Rain delays have not really happened in my career."
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