A classic Andy Murray weathered a gallant fightback from Matteo Berrettini earlier than dumping the Thirteenth-seeded Italian out of the Australian Open first spherical with an epic 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7(7) 7-6 (10-6) win on Tuesday.
With the group largely within the palm of his hand, the 35-year-old Scot raced out of the blocks to take the primary two units underneath the roof at Rod Laver Area solely to fall, virtually inevitably, into a protracted, attritional scrap.
A five-times runner-up within the event however by no means the winner, little has come straightforward for Murray at Melbourne Park, and so it proved once more as Berrettini emerged from a protracted off-court break between units able to stage the match.
Murray’s dedication by no means wavered, although, and after saving a match level, he held his nerve within the deciding 10-point tiebreak, closing out the competition with unbelievable fortune with a bunted forehand return that caught the web and left Berrettini no likelihood.
“I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow but right now I’m just unbelievably happy, just proud of myself,” Murray mentioned on courtroom after the four-hour 49-minute slog.
“I put a lot of work into the last few months with my team who are here to give me the opportunity to perform in stadiums like this … and it paid off tonight.”
Murray will play the winner of Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis and Italian veteran Fabio Fognini for a spot within the third spherical.
The 35-year-old may need saved his legs a few hours’ work had he transformed a break level when up 2-1 within the third set however the golden likelihood went begging when he meekly netted a forehand.
Berrettini made probably the most of his reprieve and served like a machine to place the match on stage phrases, whilst a hard-running Murray channelled his halcyon days of 2016 and produced a spotlight reel of angled winners.
For a second it appeared Berrettini was set to show Murray’s Grand Slam nemesis as soon as once more, having knocked him out of the third spherical of the U.S. Open 4 months in the past.
The Italian, a semi-finalist final yr, unleashed a thumping return at 5-4 up within the fifth set to deliver up match level.
Extra out of hope than design, Murray lobbed over an ill-judged drop-shot that Berrettini swooped on, solely to hit his passing shot straight into the web and go away followers gasping.
The match then slid by way of the Italian’s fingers as Murray raced to a 6-1 lead within the tiebreak earlier than savouring a useful kiss from the web to advance.
Having gained seven out of eight of his earlier five-set matches, it was a merciless manner for Berrettini to exit, particularly after clawing again to 8-6 within the tiebreak.
However the 26-year-old might solely doff his cap to the seasoned Scot, who gave his steel hip a correct exercise.
“Could have been, you know, different just with a different ball,” he mentioned.
“It’s impressive what he could do after so many surgeries,
after all the kilometers that he ran in his career.
“It simply reveals how a lot he loves the sport, how a lot he loves these form of matches.”