MELBOURNE: Metal hip, bloody knee and all, Andy Murray produced his biggest victory in years.
Murray built a huge lead, let it disappear completely, then needed to save a match point against Matteo Berrettini â€” who is nearly a full decade younger and ranked more than 50 places higher â€” before managing to pull out a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10-6) triumph across more than 4 1/2 epic hours on Tuesday in the Australian Openâ€™s first round.
â€œThe last few years, Iâ€™ve certainly questioned myself at times. Thereâ€™s certainly a lot of people (who) questioned me and my ability, whether I could still perform at the biggest events and the biggest matches,â€ said the 35-year-old Murray, a former No. 1 now ranked No. 66. â€œI felt very proud of myself after the match. Thatâ€™s not something that I generally felt over the years at the end of tennis matches.â€
This was the three-time major championâ€™s first defeat of a top-20 opponent at a Grand Slam tournament since 2017. That was before Murray thought he would need to retire â€” and even was given a career send-off at Melbourne Park in 2019, when he exited in the first round a year after his first hip operation.
After a second surgery inserted an artificial hip, Murray decided to try to continue playing. This sort of evening was likely what he had in mind when he pressed on â€” and when he spent three weeks in Boca Raton, Florida, practicing under the tutelage of coach Ivan Lendl during the offseason.
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