Murray wins Australian Open epic as Djokovic overcomes damage worry

Andy Murray triumphed in an epic, five-set Australian Open battle which completed within the early hours of Friday in Melbourne after nine-time champion Novak Djokovic defied damage and a drunken heckler to progress to the third spherical.

Murray hit again to defeat residence hope and 159th-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 7-5 – the match ending simply after 04:00.

At 5 hours and 45 minutes it was the longest match in Murray’s profession.

Djokovic, chasing a tenth Australian Open and males’s record-equalling twenty second Grand Slam, defeated 191st-ranked French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-0.

Ons Jabeur was prime among the many quite a few seeds to crash out on Thursday though a lot of the carnage occurred within the males’s draw — second seed Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman have been all despatched packing.

Former world primary Murray, 35, will play twenty fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in spherical three after his second successive five-set triumph this week.

“It was unbelievable that I managed to do it, to turn it around,” stated the three-time Grand Slam champion, who has a steel hip and appeared on the verge of retirement 4 years in the past at Melbourne Park.

“I don’t know how I managed to get through it.”

Murray had shocked Italian thirteenth seed Matteo Berrettini in his opening match in one other five-setter.

Regardless of the drama, critical questions have been being requested of the late end.

“It is essential we create better rules in tennis regarding the weather (light and wind) and starting times or cutoff times for matches,” tweeted tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

“Murray and Kokkinakis will finish around 4am. Crazy- no other sport does this @AustralianOpen.”

With the shock exit on Wednesday of hobbling defending champion Rafael Nadal, the highest two males’s seeds are each now gone.

With top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz additionally absent by way of damage, it presents an enormous alternative for Djokovic.

The 35-year-old Serb required a medical timeout and had heavy strapping on his left thigh in opposition to Couacaud.

He was additionally bothered by some rowdy followers and at one level throughout the match demanded {that a} drunken fan be thrown out.

However Djokovic recovered his poise and health to beat and can face twenty seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov in spherical three.

“There was a lot happening tonight in the match,” Djokovic, who has been fighting a hamstring damage, informed the Rod Laver Enviornment.

His on-court interview was momentarily paused when a spectator shouted out.

“I love you too, thank you,” stated Djokovic, who has loved a heat return to Melbourne Park following his deportation a yr in the past due to his stance on Covid vaccines.

Fellow seeds Andrey Rublev, Dan Evans and Holger Rune all additionally received within the second spherical.

‘A dream’

Among the many main males’s gamers who misplaced out Thursday, world quantity three Ruud was all the time struggling in opposition to hard-hitting Jenson Brooksby, and the Norwegian went down in 4 units to the American, 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2.

Ruud, who might have turn into world primary in Melbourne, refused in charge an stomach damage.

“I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially it wasn’t enough,” he stated.

Eighth seed Fritz was additionally on his method residence after wildcard native hope Alexei Popyrin beat him 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2.

“This is a dream and I don’t want to wake up at all,” stated 113th-ranked Popyrin, who was lowered to tears by the gang chanting his identify.

Zverev, the twelfth seed, suffered one other setback on his return from critical damage as he misplaced to 107th-ranked Michael Mmoh.

Jabeur shocked

Within the ladies’s draw it appeared as if a lot of the prime seeds would sail by way of.

However after the clock ticked previous midnight, Tunisian quantity two seed Jabeur was overwhelmed 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 in 1hr 41min by Czech world quantity 86 Marketa Vondrousova.

It left Jabeur nonetheless ready to win a maiden Grand Slam title.

Earlier within the day, Aryna Sabalenka confirmed why she is a critical contender by powering into the third spherical, defeating American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1.

Additionally safely by way of was France’s fourth seed Caroline Garcia, a 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 winner over former US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

American qualifier Katie Volynets dumped out Russian world quantity 9 Veronika Kudermetova.

The 21-year-old Volynets received 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 after which paid a heartfelt tribute to her prolonged household in war-ravaged Ukraine.

“I really feel for them and to have their support through all of this is incredible,” she stated.

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