Five Britons began the first round at Roland Garros this year, but after round two the nation's hopes once again rest solely on Andy Murray. The Scot came through a tougher than expected challenge against Joao Sousa in four sets earlier today. His compatriot Heather Watson was not so fortunate in the women's singles, as she disappointingly crashed out to Sloane Stephens in straight sets.
Last Brit standing in men's singles
With Kyle Edmund's withdrawal from the second round through injury confirmed before his match began, Murray knew that he was the last Brit in the men's draw as he went into his match. Sousa has been in good recent form, but based on previous encounters was not expected to trouble the world number three unduly. Having never even taken a set off his opponent in five previous defeats, the Portuguese player would have been keen though to at least provide a sterner challenge and so it proved.
Quick start from Murray
The initial signs were not encouraging for Sousa. His serve was broken in the very first game, although he did at least show some signs of resilience before yielding the early break after twelve minutes of action. That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the set, as Murray broke again to go 5-2 up. With the gusting wind causing problems on his ball toss, he surprisingly double-faulted twice as he served for the first set, but eventually closed it out.
Sousa increased his intensity in set two and consequently fought his way back into the contest. Murray seemed slightly surprised to be working harder than expected for the victory, as his inspired opponent broke his serve to establish a 5-3 lead. That clinching game can often be the hardest to take though and the Brit broke back to reduce his arrears to just one game. Sousa still sensed an opportunity was there for the taking and did just that to take a second, decisive break and with it the set.
Normal service resumed
Sadly for Sousa, normal service was resumed shortly afterwards, as Murray regained the ascendancy to storm through the next two sets at a canter. The final score of 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 represented not so much of a scare for Murray, but more of a wake-up call. In a way he will have been glad for the test, assured in the knowledge that he was always likely to come through for the victory in the end. The likes of David Ferrer or even Nick Kyrgios (who he faces next) may not be as obliging one suspects, as a player currently ranked number 44 in the world.
Disappointment for Watson
Watson had hoped to continue her dominance over Stephens (she had won all four previous matches) but was for once unable to control the undoubted talent of her opponent. Despite breaking serve on a number of occasions, her own serve proved even more fallible against the higher-ranked American. #TennisFive breaks of serve proved far too 'generous' as the Guernsey woman slipped to a 6-2 6-4 defeat after 70 minutes of play. For the 23-year-old it was yet another 'false dawn', as she continued a slightly worrying trend of losses in the second round at the event. This was her fourth such failure in round two in five years of competition. She will hope for better fortune at Wimbledon.