Andy Murray held off a Matteo Berrettini fightback to win a special five-set thriller in the opening round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The five-time runner-up in Melbourne saved a match point in a rollercoaster of a ride on Rod Laver Arena before sealing a famous 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-6) victory over the 13th seed.
Bidding to beat a top 20 player at a Grand Slam for the first time since his hip problems began in 2017, 35-year-old Murray won the opening two sets before Berrettini fought back to level in a dramatic fourth-set tie-break.
The Italian 13th seed created a match point in the 10th game of the deciding set but dumped a simple backhand into the net with the court wide open, allowing Murray to hold on and force a deciding tie-break.
A gruelling first point won by the Scot set the tone and Murray, who moved superbly, was able to celebrate a stunning win after four hours and 49 minutes.
“I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow but right now I’m just unbelievably happy and very proud of myself,” said the 35-year-old.
“I’ve put a lot of work into the last three months with my team, to give me the opportunity to perform in stadiums like this and matches like this and it paid off tonight.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever played one of those 10-point tie-breakers and it’s a bit different. He came back really strong and I was a bit lucky at the end with the net-cord.
“He was serving unbelievably and he’s a brilliant competitor as well, he always fights right to the end. I did well to get through.”
Berrettini vs Murray: Match Stats
|83%||1st serve win percentage||72%|
|43%||2nd serve win percentage||67%|
|1/5||Break points won||3/5|
|161||Total points won||166|
With the roof closed due to extreme heat, Murray was right on his game from the start and took full advantage of a sluggish opening from Berrettini, who is known as one of the tour’s toughest competitors having made the Wimbledon final in 2021 and the semi-finals here last year.
Murray confidently served out the opening set after breaking in the second game and then made the perfect start to the second with another break, sending a cross-court backhand dipping beyond the helpless Berrettini in vintage fashion.
By the time he was broken again at the end of the second set, Berrettini looked thoroughly disheartened but, as with so many of Murray’s most memorable moments, the Scot would have to do it the hard way.
Had Murray converted two break points in the fourth game of the third set, he may have been off the court a lot earlier, but Berrettini held on and from there began to play much better, hammering down aces and cranking his big forehand into gear.
Most Australian Open men’s singles match-wins (Open Era)
1. Roger Federer 102
2. Novak Djokovic 82
3. Rafael Nadal 77
4. Stefan Edberg 56
5. Andy Murray 50
The fourth set was decided in a captivating tie-break, where Murray was an inch away from carving out a match point before Berrettini, who had tightened up horribly on two set points, freed himself to take it.
He also looked in control of the decider, his serve untouchable as the pressure gradually increased on Murray, but Berrettini missed his chance to seal victory after landing his meek volley into the net in the 10th game and the match headed into a deciding tie-break.
Murray was half way to the 10 points needed before Berrettini got on the scoreboard and, although the Italian threatened to create a grandstand finish, Murray got his moment of fortune to seal a stunning win.
The former world No 1 spoke ahead of the match about how much better he was feeling about his game and fitness, and it was evident from the start that this was a different Murray to the player who has scrapped for wins since returning from hip surgery in 2019.
Murray’s incredible five-set record
The only time Andy Murray has lost a Grand Slam match after winning the first two sets (139 matches leading 2-0 including Berrettini) was against David Nalbandian at Wimbledon in 2005.
Evans joins fellow Brits Murray and Raducanu in second round
Dan Evans completed a four-set victory over Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis after play had been suspended because of extreme heat.
With the temperature into the mid-30s, the tournament’s heat stress scale, which also takes into account humidity and wind speed, hit five just after 2pm, meaning play was stopped on the outside courts.
The British No 2 had taken nearly three hours to open up a two-sets-to-one lead before play was halted.
He stepped up in the fourth with a break in the seventh game and served out a 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory.
The temperature was already above 30 degrees when play began, with Evans looking to repeat the result from the first round in 2017, when he defeated Bagnis in straight sets before making it to the fourth round.
The 32-year-old Argentinian is ranked 91st and has never won a main-draw match in Melbourne so on paper this was a kind draw but Evans made a poor start, dropping serve in his opening game.
He fought back well with a run of four games in a row but Bagnis was proving a dogged competitor and, although Evans recovered from 1-4 in the second set, a volley dumped into the tramlines allowed the Argentinian to level.
It was nip and tuck in the third before Evans gained the advantage with a break for 4-3, and he took the set before organisers announced the heat stress scale had hit five, the mark where continuing play outside is deemed dangerous.
Play finally resumed at 5pm, and Evans sealed the win after three hours and 29 minutes to set up a second-round clash with veteran Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.