Former world number one Andy Murray comes back from two sets down to edge Thanasi Kokkinakis in a marathon five-setter past 4 a.m. on Friday at Melbourne Park.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray secured his spot in the third round of the Australian Open by prevailing over local player Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 in five hours and 45 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.
In his on-court interview, the Scot commented: “It was unbelievable that I managed to turn that round. Thanasi was serving unbelievably, hitting his forehand huge, and I don’t know how I managed to get through it.
“I did start playing better as the match went on. And yeah, I have a big heart.”
Adding: “I now am outright the most wins coming from two-sets-to-love down, so I have done it before. I have experience of it. I just rely on that experience and drive. That fight and love for the game and competing and my respect for this event and the competition. That is why I kept going.”
The five-time Australian Open finalist will next face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The 24th seed took out American wild card Brandon Holt with a 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win, fighting back from two sets down to advance to the next round.
They are even in their series 3-3, but Murray has failed to overcome the World No. 25 since 2016 in Shanghai.
A Comeback for the Ages
Kokkinakis made a fast start to the opener; wise on serve, he hit 17 winners, winning 86 percent on his first serve points and 57 on his second, converting one of five breakpoint opportunities to storm to victory after 52 minutes.
The 26-year-old kept the momentum going into a second set tiebreak, which he won, 7-6(4) in 74 minutes, getting closer to advancing to the third round for the first time at his home slam.
However, tables would turn as the Australian served for the match at 5-3, getting broken by Murray, who had improved his game as the tie went on, moving well and finding his rhythm.
The World No. 66 held at 5-5, continuing to apply pressure over the Aussie, keeping his chances alive by winning the tiebreak 7-6(5), setting off a memorable comeback.
Murray won 91 percent of points at the net, committing 11 unforced errors to the Adelaide native 14.
Continuing to charge at the net with precision (won 89% of points) while recording only seven unforced errors, Ivan Lendl’s pupil even the score, 2-2, taking the fourth set 6-3 despite his adversary’s best efforts.
After four hours and 39 minutes, the battle went the distance as the players set in motion, a fifth decider set at 3 a.m. local time.
The ultimate battle was tight from the get-go until the two-time gold medallist produced a pivotal break, taking the lead at 6-5, serving to wrap up a grueling encounter at 4.05 a.m., the second-longest match in the major’s history.
Two days ago, Murray kicked off his 2023 season in Melbourne, playing Italian Matteo Berrettini to grab his first victory against the 13th seed since 2019, the second in five encounters.
The first-round clash unfolded into a dramatic five-setter he would win after four hours and 52 minutes.
Ahead of their matchup, Murray outlined: “Obviously [it is] a tough draw. But I also feel I am in a much better place than I was during any of the Slams last year coming into it. I feel well prepared. I feel ready to play a top player early in the event.”