MELBOURNE: A vintage Andy Murray withstood a valiant fightback from Matteo Berretini before eliminating the Italian, 13th seed, from the australian open first round with an epic 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 (7) 7-6 (10-6) win on Tuesday.
With the crowd largely in the palm of his hand, the 35-year-old Scotsman raced out of the blocks to take the opening two sets under the Rod Laver Arena roof only to fall, almost inevitably, into a lengthy attritional brawl.
A five-time tournament finalist but never a winner, Murray was not easy to melbourne parkand it was proven again when Berrettini emerged from a long break off the pitch between sets ready to level the game.
Murray’s determination never wavered, however, and after saving a match point he kept his composure in the decisive 10-point tiebreaker, closing the contest in incredible fortune with a comeback from missed forehand that caught the net and gave Berrettini no chance.
“I’m going to feel that tonight and tomorrow, but right now I’m incredibly happy, just proud of myself,” Murray said on the pitch after the four-hour-and-49-minute slog.
“I have worked a lot in recent months with my team who are there to give me the opportunity to play in stadiums like this… and it paid off tonight.”

Murray will face Australia winner Thanasi Kokkinakis and Italian veteran Fabio Fognini for a place in the third round.
The 35-year-old might have saved his legs a few hours of work had he converted a break point as he trailed 2-1 in the third set, but the golden chance was overdue when he softly scored a forehand.
Berrettini made the most of his reprieve and served as a machine to level the game, although hard-running Murray channeled his 2016 heyday and produced a reel of slanted winners.
For a moment, it appeared Berrettini was set to prove Murray’s nemesis once again at Grand Slams, having knocked him out of the third round of the US Open four months ago.
The Italian, a semi-finalist last year, sparked a resounding comeback at 5-4 in the fifth set to provide match point.
More out of hope than design, Murray threw a misjudged drop shot that Berrettini charged at, only to hit his passing shot straight into the net and leave the fans gasping.
The match then slipped through the Italian’s fingers as Murray took a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker before relishing a helpful kiss from the net to advance.
Having won seven of eight of his previous matches in five sets, it was a cruel way for Berrettini to exit, especially after recovering 8-6 in the tiebreak.
But the 26-year-old could only take off his cap at the seasoned Scotsman, who gave his metallic hip a proper workout.
“It could have been, you know, different just with a different ball,” he said.
“It’s impressive what he has been able to do after so many operations, after all the miles he has covered in his career.
“It shows how much he loves the game, how much he loves these kinds of games.”


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