Andy Murray won an epic five-set battle with No. 13 Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday in the opening round of the 2023 Australian Open.
The three-time grand slam winner had to save match point in the final set and rallied in the deciding tiebreak to win 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7(7-9) 7-6(10-6) in the Rod Laver Arena.
After years of battling devastating injuries had left his tennis career in jeopardy, Murray struggled to hold back his emotions in the immediate aftermath as his achievement dawned on him.
The epic four hour and 49-minute-long victory was Murray’s first win over a top-20 opponent at a grand slam since 2017.
“I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow, but right now, I’m just unbelievably happy, very proud of myself,” Murray said in his on-court interview afterwards.
“I’ve put a lot of work into the past few months with my team here to give me the opportunity to perform on stadiums like this and in matches like this against players like Matteo, and it paid off tonight.”
A rollercoaster ride
Murray and Berrettini’s draw in the first round was comfortably the marquee match of the opening set of fixtures – and it did not disappoint.
The 35-year-old Murray raced into a quick two-set lead, using his sliced shots to keep last year’s semifinalist off-kilter.
But the Italian showed the grit and class he’s become known for to slowly but surely reel Murray back in, before leveling the scores at two sets apiece.
The deciding set went with serve, as both players tried to pounce upon mistakes from their opponent with both their serves looking impressive.
With Berrettini taking a 5-4 lead and with Murray serving to remain in the game, the Scot had to stave off a match point to hold serve and remain in the game.
And in the tiebreak – played to 10 points in a match-deciding set – Murray looked back to his best, racing into a big lead before eventually steering himself to a famous victory.
It was Murray’s 50th win at the Australian Open and is one of his most memorable, even for someone who’s reached the final of the tournament five times before.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever played one of those 10-point tie-breakers,” Murray said. “It’s a bit different. When you’re up 6-1, or 7-1 or whatever, it feels like you’re still quite far away. He came back really strong and I was just a bit lucky at the end with the net cord,” he added of his return on match point, which dribbled over the net.
Murray added: “I think, at the end, some of the tennis was really good. It felt like that playing, I don’t know what it looked like. He was serving unbelievable and he’s a brilliant competitor as well, one of the best competitors on the Tour. He always fights right to the end, so I did well to get through.”
Murray will now face either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Fabio Fognini in the second round on Thursday.