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Miracle man and king of the comeback – Andy Murray comes back from the brink in epic thriller with Kokkinakis

Andy Murray overhauled the situation against Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 on Thursday. He’ll play Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, the No 24 seed, in the next round

Andy Murray Andy Murray (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)
Australian Open •Second round • completed
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Against the odds – and a formidable foe – Andy Murray reminded the tennis world why he is considered to be one of the all-time greats on Friday morning in Melbourne.

Just two days after fighting off Matteo Berrettini in five sets to earn his best win by ranking at a major since 2017 the former No 1 and three-time major champion was at it again.

As the clock sped past four AM, there was the metal-hipped 35-year-old, pulling off a miraculous comeback to beat Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

“I actually felt better on the court today physically than I did the other day, which is a positive thing,” Murray told reporters after completing his 11th comeback from two sets to love down and earning his 198th career Grand Slam win. “But yeah, finishing at 4 isn’t ideal.

It was a match that lasted five hours and 45 minutes, the longest in the Scot’s career, and concluded just past 4am local time.

“It was, yeah, unbelievable that I managed to turn that round,” Murray said on the court afterwards. “Thanasi was playing unbelievable…I did start playing better as the match went on.

“And yeah, I have a big heart.”

Murray, ranked No 66, will face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, the No 24 seed, next, in a part of the draw where a lot of seeds lost on Thursday.

Murray weathered 37 aces and 102 winners from the hard-hitting Kokkinakis during the contest, and produced 69 winners of his own, against 43 unforced errors. In slow-playing conditions in the middle of the night, Murray took the all important edge in longer rallies, winning 92 points that went five or more strokes, against 83 for Kokkinakis.

Murray – I want to sleep

Murray has now played ten sets across 10 hours and 34 minutes of tennis through two rounds. While he insists that he feels good, sleep was calling…

“The match was obviously very up and down,” he said. “There was frustration in there. There was tension. There was excitement, all of that stuff. Then at the end… I mean, look, it’s obviously amazing to win the match, but I also want to go to bed now.

“It’s great, great. But I want to sleep.”

Full circle moment for Murray

It’s poetic that Murray’s third-round opponent, 24th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut, was the player that was thought to have ended the Scot’s Australian Open career in the first round at Melbourne in 2019. Days before the match, Murray had given a teary press conference, saying that his retirement was imminent.

“Obviously I have been struggling a long time and I have been in pain for about twenty months now,” Murray told reporters as he broke into tears. “I’ve pretty much done everything that I could to try and get my hip feeling better and it hasn’t helped loads. I’m in a better place than I was six months ago but still in a lot of pain. It’s been tough.

“I’m going to play here. I can still play to a certain level, not a level I’m happy playing at. It’s not just that. The pain is too much really, I don’t want to continue playing that way.”

With renewed hope and vigour, the British legend will make a bid to reach the second week of a major for the first time since 2017, when he reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon.

The king of the comeback

With his victory Murray has passed Fabio Fognini and now has earned more comebacks from two sets down than any other active ATP player. It’s a testament to his intestinal fortutide and his unbreakable spirit.

Active playersComebacks From 0-2
Andy Murray 11 
Fabio Fognini 10 
Marin Cilic 
Novak Djokovic 
Fernando Verdasco

“I think now I’m outright the most matches coming back from two sets to love down. So I have done it before, I have experience of it, and I just rely on that experience and that drive and that fight, and my love of the game, and competing, and my respect for this event, and the competition.

“That’s why I kept going.”

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

  • Novak Djokovic (4) beat Enzo Couacaud (Q): 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-0
  • Alex De Minaur (22) beat Adrian Mannarino: 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
  • Benjamin Bonzi beat Pablo Carreno Busta (14): 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-6 (4)
  • Roberto Bautista Agut beat Brandon Holt (Q): 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
  • Holger Rune (9) beat Maxime Cressy: 7-5, 6-4, 6-4
  • Grigor Dimitrov (27) beat Laslo Djere: 6-3, 6-2, 6-0
  • Michael Mmoh (LL) beat Alexander Zverev (12): 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
  • Alexei Popyrin (WC) beat Taylor Fritz (8): 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2
  • Ugo Humbert beat Denis Kudla (LL): 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4
  • J.J. Wolf beat Diego Schwartzman (23): 6-1, 6-4, 6-4
  • Ben Shelton beat Nicolas Jarry (Q): 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3), 7-5
  • Jenson Brooksby beat Casper Ruud (2): 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2
  • Andrey Rublev (5) beat Emil Ruusuvuori: 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3
  • Tommy Paul beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (30): 6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4
  • Daniel Evans (25) beat Jeremy Chardy: 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
  • Cameron Norrie (11) beat Constant Lestienne: 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3
  • Jiri Lehecka beat Christopher Eubanks (WC): 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
  • Tallon Griekspoor beat Botic Van De Zandschulp (32): 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
  • Sebastian Korda (29) beat Yosuke Watanuki (Q): 6-2, 7-5, 6-4
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) beat Rinky Hijikata (WC): 6-3, 6-0, 6-2
  • Hubert Hurkacz (10) beat Lorenzo Sonego: 3-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • Denis Shapovalov (20) beat Taro Daniel: 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5
  • Francisco Cerundolo (28) beat Corentin Moutet: 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
  • Yoshihito Nishioka (31) beat Dalibor Svrcina (Q): 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
  • Daniil Medvedev (7) beat John Millman (WC): 7-5, 6-2, 6-2
  • Marton Fucsovics beat Lloyd Harris: 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
  • Karen Khachanov (18) beat Jason Kubler (WC): 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
  • Frances Tiafoe (16) beat Juncheng Shang (Q): 6-4, 6-4, 6-1
  • Mackenzie McDonald beat Rafael Nadal (1): 6-4, 6-4, 7-5
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) beat Alex Molcan: 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
  • Jannik Sinner (15) beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry: 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
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