Paris, June 5: Andy Murray won a tennis match in front of a football crowd.
The fourth-seeded Scot shrugged off the boos that rained down when he walked on the court. He then withstood the harassment thrown his way during Monday's four-set match. All of which disappointed a crowd pulling for Frenchman and fan favorite Richard Gasquet.
"I wouldn't say it got too much," Murray said. "I mean, yeah, it's almost like playing a sort of a football match. And I like football. I enjoyed myself on the court today. It's the most fun I've had on the court in a while, so I wasn't shying away from the fact that the crowd wanted me to lose."
Murray overcame a stiff back and a terrible start for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory, yet even toward the end, when the result seemed academic, the crowd would not relent.
Fans made Murray wait more than a minute to start his last service game while they finished doing the wave. They cheered when he served into the net. They mocked the chair umpire with a long hiss — "Shhhhh" — as he tried to quiet them to keep the match moving.
"I played Davis Cup a few times away from home, but that was probably one of the most hostile that I've played in," Murray said.
The tension grew in the momentum-shifting second set when Gasquet asked the umpire to check a mark and Murray objected. They bickered for a moment about that. Murray went on to save two break points to make it 5-4 in the second and, after breaking Gasquet to win the set, he picked up steam.
The tiff on the court, plus the fact that Gasquet told reporters he thought Murray got lucky at the end of the second set, led to a response that probably won't make the Scot any more popular in Paris.
"If he was unhappy with that, then, well, that's his problem," Murray said. "He should have just tried to get on with it."
Instead, it is Murray moving on for a quarterfinal against No. 6 David Ferrer, the Spaniard who is 3-0 against Murray on clay.
Murray was holding his back in the early going on a gray, chilly day at Roland Garros. But as the day went on, his back, bothering him since last week, loosened up and Murray's game improved.
"It's a little bit stiff, but it's much better than it was a few days ago," Murray said. "So, hopefully the conditions will warm up a little bit in the next few days."