Andy Murray knocks out former semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in five-set epic
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Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray defeated 13th seed and 2022 semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(6) in the opening round in Melbourne.
One of the biggest upsets of the first round so far, Murray looked at his best throughout the four hour and 54 minute clash to claim his 50th win at the Australian Open in front of the adoring crowd on the Rod Laver Arena.
This is the first time Murray has defeated a top 20 opponent at a Grand Slam since 2017.
“I’ll be feeling this this evening but right now I’m unbelievably happy and proud of myself,” said Murray during his post-match interview.
“I’ve put in a lot of work these last few months to give me the opportunity to perform on stages like this against players like Matteo and today it paid off.
“I had break points early in the third and momentum changed from there a bit and he started serving unbelievably. To stay with it in the fifth when he was serving like that, I thought was a really great effort.
“I think some of the tennis at the end was really good – it certainly felt like that playing. He’s a great player and a brilliant competitor so I did well to get through.”
In the next round, Murray will take on either Italy’s Fabio Fognini or Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Next up Norrie will face Constant Lestienne, while Evans takes on Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy.
Murray got off to the perfect start as he rolled back the years in the Rod Laver Arena, breaking the big serving Italian on his opening game to race to a 3-0 lead. The Brit only needed the one break to take the first set and it was a similar story in the second as Murray continued to capitalise on Berrettini’s uncharacteristically lack lustre second serve – where he won just 33% of points.
A five-time finalist in Melbourne, Murray had opportunities to stretch even further ahead with a brace of break points at 2-1 up in the third, but Berrettini held strong as he began to find his range on his killer first serve. A pivotal turning point in the match, the charged up Italian broke Murray to lead in the set for the first time and only lost three points on serve the rest of the way.
The Italian clinched the fourth in a close tie-break on his fourth set point and as the match drew on Murray had to dig deep to stay with the world No.14. In the final set, Berrettini was winning 91% of his points off the first serve and giving the three-time Grand Slam champion very little to work with.
Having only lost three points on serve in the deciding set, Berrettini set up his first and only match point leading 5-4, and must have thought he’d won the match as Murray’s drop shot sat up perfectly for him, only for the Italian to put it in the net. A much-needed lifeline for Murray was taken with open arms and with his only ace of the match, kept the match on serve.
Over four and a half hours in the bank and the match would come down to a match tie-break, where Murray reached a whole new gear. The 35-year-old hasn’t lost a Grand Slam match from two sets up for 18 years and he wasn’t about to do so any time soon, as he showed excellent variety across all areas of the court to take a 5-0 lead.
After all the thrills and spills of an epic five-set clash and despite Berrettini’s attempts to seize the breaker back in his favour, the match came to a close with a stroke of luck in favour of the 35-year-old – his forehand return clipping off the net and dropping just over onto his opponent's side of the court.