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Murray Magic! Inspired Scot saves a match point as he takes out Berrettini in five-set Australian Open thrill ride

Andy Murray beat Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (6) on Tuesday night, earning his first top-20 win at a major since 2017.

Andy Murray 2023 Australian Open Andy Murray 2023 Australian Open || AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •First round • completed
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Way back in 2005, when Andy Murray was hardly a legend, before the Grand Slam titles, Olympic Gold medals, No 1 ranking and Knighthood, he squandered a two sets to love lead in a third-round match at Wimbledon, to David Nalbandian.

18 years on, Murray has not made the same mistake again. On Tuesday the great Scot made sure of it – just barely – as he edged No 13 seed Matteo Berrettini in an absolute cliffhanger in Rod Laver Arena, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (6).

Make that 157 consecutive wins for Murray when he has held a two sets to love lead.

Was he aware of the streak as Berrettini relentlessly attacked, the Italian angling for what would have been the biggest comeback of his Grand Slam career?

“I didn’t know that,” said Murray deadpanned court after his win.

Add to that the fact that Berrettini, who earned – and painfully squandered – a match point in the final set, had won his last nine tiebreakers at the Australian Open, and the improbable nature of this four hour and 49-minute roller coaster affair grows thicker.

“I didn’t know any of these stats, which probably helped,” Murray said with a wry smile.

Proud, tired and into the second round

Murray notches his first top-20 win at the Grand Slams since 2017, and he will face either Fabio Fognini or Thanasi Kokkinakis next. First, a little rest is in order.

“I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow,” Murray said. “But right now I’m just unbelievably happy, very proud of myself. 

“I’ve put a lot of work into the last few months with my team, who are here, to give me the opportunity to perform on stadiums like this and in matches against players like Matteo and it paid off tonight.”

“He was serving unbelievable, and he’s a brilliant competitor, he is one of the best competitors on the tour. He always fights right til the end, so I did well to get through.”

— Andy Murray, on his win over Matteo Berrettini

There was drama, and also high quality

Murray dominated the opening two sets, as Berrettini struggled to settle into the match. It was the Scot calling all the shots as he moved Berrettini around the chess board, probing with his variety and taking the Italian out of his comfort zone. But in the third set, Berrettini’s forehand started to hit with more zing, he raised the pace of his shots and began to control things physically.

Murray said he could feel the difference.

“I think some of the tennis at the end was really good – it felt like that playing, I don’t know what it looked like,” he said to the crowd. “He was serving unbelievable, and he’s a brilliant competitor, he is one of the best competitors on the tour. He always fights right til the end, so I did well to get through.”

Murray had chances to close out the match earlier but Berrettini held his nerve, breaking for 3-2 in the third set and holding the rest of the way to turn the pressure up.

Berrettini’s match point – a terrible miss

In the fourth set Berrettini converted his third set point in the tiebreak to bring it to a decider. The Italian had a 7-1 record in five sets, compared to 26-13 for Murray, at the start of the fifth.

An hour later, with Berrettini holding match point with Murray serving at 4-5 30-40, it looked like the 26-year-old was set to finish his comeback. Not so fast! He missed an easy backhand with half of the court wide open, his shot sagging into the net.

It is a shot that Berrettini will likely remember for the rest of his career. A golden opportunity to cap off a dramatic victory had suddenly gone begging.

There was suddenly new life for Murray, and it was an opportunity he would not waste. Murray pushed into the super tiebreak (first player to 10 points) and then stretched out to a 5-0 lead. Berrettini would close to 8-6 but he would not get closer.

“I had a couple of breakpoints early in the third set,” Murray later said. “Didn’t get them. He served well on those points. The momentum changed after that, it felt to me like he was serving unbelievable, like really accurate as well and close the lines, and I’d made a couple of little tweaks right at the end of the fifth set, maybe I could have done that sooner, to get more returns back in play but yeah, he he did play extremely well the last last three sets.”

Berrettini – Andy just handled the situation better

In his post-match press conference Berrettini talked about the difficulty of playing the match under a roof in Rod Laver Arena, after warming up and planning to play outdoors in the heat. The roof was closed due to the tournament’s extreme heat policy, and Berrettini did not respond well.

“Obviously was a little bit different from what I expected it,” he said. “It was cold. It wasn’t hot like I expected. I was ready for different kind of conditions. Two minutes before, everything changed. I have to say Andy just handled the situation better.”

Melbourne (Grand Slam), other first-round results (Melbourne Park, hard, USD 24.297.942, most recent results first):

  • Tomas Machac vs. Casper Ruud
  • Roberto Carballes Baena vs. Novak Djokovic
  • Aleksandar Vukic vs. Brandon Holt
  • John Isner vs. Adrian Mannarino
  • Denis Kudla vs. Roman Safiullin
  • João Sousa vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
  • Chun-Hsin Tseng vs. Alexei Popyrin
  • Richard Gasquet vs. Ugo Humbert
  • Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Fabio Fognini
  • Enzo Couacaud vs. Hugo Dellien
  • Yu Hsiou Hsu vs. Alex De Minaur
  • Max Purcell vs. Emil Ruusuvuori: tuesday
  • Christopher O’Connell vs. Jenson Brooksby: tuesday
  • Maxime Cressy vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas: tuesday
  • Jan-Lennard Struff vs. Tommy Paul: tuesday
  • Michael Mmoh vs. Laurent Lokoli: tuesday
  • Ben Shelton vs. Zhizhen Zhang: tuesday
  • Filip Krajinovic vs. Holger Rune: tuesday
  • Juan Pablo Varillas vs. Alexander Zverev: tuesday
  • Taylor Fritz (8) beat Nikoloz Basilashvili: 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
  • J.J. Wolf vs. Jordan Thompson: tuesday
  • Pablo Carreno Busta (14) beat Pedro Cachin: 7-6 (4), 6-1, 7-6 (3)
  • Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (30) beat Alexander Bublik: 6-0, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
  • Nicolas Jarry (Q) beat Miomir Kecmanovic (26): 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3)
  • Diego Schwartzman (23) beat Oleksii Krutykh (Q): 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (5)
  • Laslo Djere beat Zizou Bergs (Q): 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • Grigor Dimitrov (27) beat Aslan Karatsev: 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-2
  • Benjamin Bonzi beat Mattia Bellucci (Q): 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-4
  • Daniel Evans (25) beat Facundo Bagnis: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
  • Jeremy Chardy beat Daniel Elahi Galan: 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4
  • Andrey Rublev (5) beat Dominic Thiem (WC): 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
  • Daniil Medvedev (7) beat Marcos Giron: 6-0, 6-1, 6-2
  • Constant Lestienne beat Thiago Monteiro: 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3
  • Lloyd Harris beat Lorenzo Musetti (17): 6-4, 6-1, 6-7, 2-6, 7-6 (4)
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) beat Quentin Halys: 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6)
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) beat Vasek Pospisil: 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-3
  • Cameron Norrie (11) beat Luca Van Assche (WC): 7-6 (3), 6-0, 6-3
  • Rinky Hijikata (WC) beat Yannick Hanfmann (Q): 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3
  • Alex Molcan beat Stan Wawrinka: 6-7 (3), 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4
  • Marton Fucsovics beat Federico Coria: 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-2
  • Christopher Eubanks (WC) beat SoonWoo Kwon: 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
  • John Millman (WC) beat Marc-Andrea Huesler: 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-3
  • Dalibor Svrcina (Q) beat Jaume Munar: 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
  • Jiri Lehecka beat Borna Coric (21): 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
  • Lorenzo Sonego beat Nuno Borges: 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-1
  • Jason Kubler (WC) beat Sebastian Baez: 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
  • Taro Daniel beat Ernesto Escobedo (Q): 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
  • Rafael Nadal (1) beat Jack Draper: 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • Frances Tiafoe (16) beat Daniel Altmaier: 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6)
  • Karen Khachanov (18) beat Bernabe Zapata Miralles: 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-0
  • Mackenzie McDonald beat Brandon Nakashima: 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 1-6, 6-7 (10), 6-4
  • Tallon Griekspoor beat Pavel Kotov (LL): 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3
  • Denis Shapovalov (20) beat Dusan Lajovic: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • Yoshihito Nishioka (31) beat Mikael Ymer: 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
  • Sebastian Korda (29) beat Cristian Garin: 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
  • Hubert Hurkacz (10) beat Pedro Martinez: 7-6 (1), 6-2, 6-2
  • Corentin Moutet beat Yibing Wu (WC): 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
  • Francisco Cerundolo (28) beat Guido Pella: 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
  • Jannik Sinner (15) beat Kyle Edmund: 6-4, 6-0, 6-2
  • Tomas Martin Etcheverry beat Gregoire Barrere: 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
  • Botic van de Zandschulp (32) beat Ilya Ivashka: 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
  • Yosuke Watanuki (Q) beat Arthur Rinderknech: 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
  • Juncheng Shang (Q) beat Oscar Otte: 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5
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