Andy Murray said he silenced doubters after defeating Italy’s 13th seed Matteo Berrettini in a grueling five sets to book a place in the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion battled serious hip and abdominal injuries for half a decade, but declared himself free from pain and flared up ahead of the tournament.
His renowned courage was showcased by saving a match point to topple the Italian 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/6) in 4 hours 49 minutes behind closed doors. Rod Laver Arena roof due to extreme heat.
It was a huge victory for the 35-year-old Briton, now ranked 66th, to knock out last year’s semi-finalist.
“I think over the last few years I’ve definitely questioned myself,” said Murray, a five-time Melbourne Park finalist and former world number one.
“There are certainly a lot of people who have questioned me and my abilities, if I could still play in the biggest events and the biggest games.
“I felt very proud of myself after the match. It’s not something I’ve usually felt over the years at the end of tennis matches.
“I think I’m proud of the job I’ve done over the past few months,” added Murray, who will next face either Thanasi Kokkinakis or Fabio Fognini.
“I trained very, very hard in Florida to prepare to play here. I’m really proud of how I fought that game in the end when it could have gotten away from me.”
It was Murray’s first victory against a top-20 player at a Grand Slam since beating ninth-ranked Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals of the 2017 French Open.
Victory also picked up his 50th Australian Open victory, becoming the fifth man in the Open era to achieve the feat alongside Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Stefan Edberg.
Berrettini called Murray – who plays with a metal hip after surgery in 2019 – a “great champion”.
“It’s impressive what he’s been able to do after so many operations, after all the miles he’s covered in his career,” said the 26-year-old.
“It shows how much he loves the game, how much he loves these kinds of matches. He’s a great champion. I’ve said that so many times.”
– Hard work –
Coached by Ivan Lendl, who won the Melbourne Park title in 1989 and 1990, Murray broke once in the first set and twice in the second as the Italian struggled on his second serve while making a multitude of direct errors.
But Berrettini rallied in the third set with a break to move 3-2 clear and helped by six aces took him to a fourth set.
Nothing separated them and it was a seesaw tie-break that the Italian won on his third set point when Murray sent a long forehand.
Berrettini got a 5-4 match point in the fifth set but fired an easy half-volley to squander the chance and it again ended in a tiebreaker.
An early break for Murray gave him the lead and he hung on.
Murray said having Lendl in his team made a big difference.
“He’s definitely not going to let me off the hook, well, not working hard,” he said.
“He’s always going to push me as hard as he can to try to get the best out of me.”
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