Andy Murray has clinched his second consecutive five-set win in the early hours of Friday morning at the Australian Open, this time rallying from two-sets-to love down for a record 11th time in his career.
Finishing at 4:05 a.m., just two hours from daybreak in Melbourne, the former World No. 1 rallied past home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5, advancing after five hours and 45 minutes in the longest match of his career. Murray withstood 102 winners, including 37 aces, from the South Australian.
“It was unbelievable I managed to turn that around,” said Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist. “Thanasi was serving unbelievably and hitting his forehand huge. I don’t know how I managed to get through it. I did start playing better as the match went on, but yeah, I have a big heart.
“I now am outright the most wins coming from two-sets-to-love down, so I have done it before. I have experience of it. I just rely on that experience and drive. That fight and love for the game and competing and my respect for this event and the competition and that is why I kept going.”
With a lively Australian crowd watching, Murray demonstrated his mental and physical strength for the second time this week, having edged Matteo Berrettini in a four-hour, 52-minute five-set thriller in the first round. The Scot battled back from 2-5 in the third set to gain a foothold in the match, before he continued to play aggressively in the fourth and fifth sets to earn the 11th win of his career from two-sets-to-love down, more than any other active player.
It is also the first time Murray has reached the third round at the first major of the season since 2017, with his finish time of 4:05 a.m. in Melbourne the latest in his career. His previous latest finish came in Washington, where play ended at 3:02 a.m.
In a thrilling clash, Kokkinakis came out firing. The 26-year-old Australian struck 39 winners across the first two sets and from 5-2 in the third set looked set to reach the third round in Melbourne for the first time. However, as Berrettini discovered in the first round, defeating Murray is no simple task.
Despite spending nearly five hours on court against the Italian, Murray held up physically against Kokkinakis, looking the fresher of the two as the match went on. He increasingly stepped inside the baseline to hit through the Australian and won one of the points of the year to break at the start of the third set.
At 0-2, the Scot scampered from corner to corner, stretching every inch of his body to retrieve three smashes before Kokkinakis could only find the net with a forehand. Following the exchange, Murray pointed to his head, letting out a roar in delight. It was a moment that summarised the match.
ANDY. MURRAY. ?
Madness in Melbourne!@andy_murray • @wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/NaHx1FkJnu
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2023
Murray won 81 per cent (21/26) of his first-serve points and committed just seven unforced errors in the fourth set to level the match, before he dug deep in the decider to earn his second win of the season.
Murray has produced some of his best tennis at the hard-court major, reaching the final five times. The 35-year-old, who now holds a 51-14 record in Melbourne, has not advanced to the fourth round at a major since 2017, when he enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
He will look to change that when he next plays Roberto Bautista Agut after the Spaniard also rallied from two sets down to defeat American wild card Brandon Holt 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.