Andy Murray beats 13th seed Berrettini in Australian Open thriller

Former World No 1 Andy Murray produced one of his best performances in recent years to hold off Italian 13th seed Matteo Berrettini and win a five-set thriller in the Australian Open first round.

The 35-year-old Scot, currently ranked 66th in the world who thought hip surgery in 2019 would end his career, saved a match point at 5-4 in the decider and competed a 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-6) win on Rod Laver Arena – his first over a top-20 opponent at a Grand Slam since 2017.

After racing 6-1 ahead in the first-to-10 final-set tie-break, Murray secured victory after almost five hours with a forehand which took a huge chunk of the net cord and left Berrettini stranded.

The three-time major champion will play Italian veteran Fabio Fognini or Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round on Thursday.

“I will be feeling it this evening and tomorrow but right now I’m unbelievably happy and proud of myself,” said Murray, a five-time runner-up in Melbourne.

“I’ve been working to give myself the opportunity to perform in matches like this and against players like Matteo. It paid off tonight.”

“I was a bit lucky at the end with the net cord, but it felt like some of the tennis was really good,” Murray said and described Berrettini as an unbelievable player and one of the best competitors.

Nobody upsets the odds quite like Murray and this latest act of defiance was the greatest since he had the surgery four years ago which left him with a metal hip.

When the draw for the Australian Open pitted Murray against Berrettini, the general consensus was the veteran Scot had landed an opponent who would leave him cursing his luck.

Instead, an upbeat Murray felt playing the 2021 Wimbledon finalist was an opportunity to earn the statement win he has long craved.

Murray produced some of the best tennis he has played since his comeback, particularly in the opening two sets as Berrettini struggled to fire up his devastating forehand.

After Murray was unable to take break points for a 3-1 lead in the third, Berrettini discovered his rhythm and strong serving enable him to eventually level.

The pivotal moment of a gripping contest – which turned it back in Murray’s favour – came when Berrettini choked after being presented with a golden opportunity to win the match.

Murray poorly executed a drop-shot and, with options to beat his stranded opponent at either side, Berrettini dumped a straightforward backhand into the net.

Those watching on Laver could not hide their disbelief as a loud, collective gasp echoed around Melbourne’s show court, while Berrettini clutched his face before managing a rueful smile.

“It’s really tough to talk about the match now. It could have been different just with a different ball,” Berrettini said. “I had a match point. I missed on his ball. That sums up the match.”

Berrettini composed himself to hold the next game, but lost his serve at the start of the tie-break when Murray showed all his quality to win the point with a backhand down the line.

That laid the platform for Murray to dominate the breaker and, after a slice of luck with the winning point, he secured his first top-20 win at a major since beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori at the French Open in 2017.

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