Andy Murray defeated Matteo Berrettini three sets to two (6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 , 7-6 ) on Tuesday at the Australian Open in an extraordinary match.
It was one of the posters of this 1st round of the Australian Open, and the least we can say is that it did not disappoint. At the end of a magnificent battle, especially in its second part, Andy Murray went for a reference victory for him in Grand Slam since his return from a heavy hip surgery in 2019. The Scot managed to resist the comeback of Matteo Berrettini, 14th player in the world, saving a match point in the process to win at the end of the decisive super tie-break (6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6) after nearly five hours of play (4h49 precisely). He will have to recover well before facing Thanasi Kokkinakis or Fabio Fognini.
“Sir Andy” wasn’t bluffing. In his pre-tournament press conference, he did not hide his satisfaction with the progress he has made in recent weeks. He considered himself much better equipped to face Matteo Berrettini than he was in the third round of the US Open during their last duel a few months ago. And he put his money where his mouth was in a Rod Laver Arena with a closed roof and air conditioning because of the heat of the day. At 35 and with a metal hip, he beat his first Top 20 Grand Slam since Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals of the French Open… 2017. And he owes it all to himself.
A SOLIDITY THAT IS BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY SOUND
From start to finish, Murray played at a bluffing level. Frankly dominant against an absent Berrettini in the first two sets, he could even have won the match earlier. At 2-1 in his favor in the third act, he got two break points to put his rival’s head under water for good. But the Italian then woke up, regaining his strength and his punching tennis to clear the danger and take the Scotsman’s serve in the process. The turning point was undoubtedly amplified by the win in the fourth act at the end of an unbreathable tie-break won 9 points to 7.
Everything could have been done again for the Scotsman who could have suffered. Many would have collapsed in his place, especially after coming within two points of the match several times in the fourth set. On the other side of the net, Berrettini had started the aces machine. After hitting “only” 8 in the first two sets, he went on to hit 23 more (31 in all), including 10 in the fifth and final set alone. The result was that Murray did not get frustrated, always trying to be aggressive on his service games while running away like a rabbit on defense when he was forced to. In the end, it was mentally that the old hand made the difference.
BERRETTINI BETRAYED BY HIS NERVES AT THE MOMENT OF THE DEATH BLOW
Berrettini’s backhand passing on match point at 5-4, 30/40, gave his rival a glimpse of the break that he had been patiently waiting for. And in the super tie-break, Murray put the nail in the coffin by winning the first five points against an opponent suddenly deprived of his main weapon: his first ball.
As if to symbolize it, the Scot won on a final stroke of fate, the net being generous after his backhand return. But luck favours the bold and “Sir Andy” deserved it. Four years after his tearful farewell in Melbourne, it was definitely not time to retire.
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