It wasn’t the longest match in Australian Open history, or the latest completion time, but it was one of the most dramatic matches, especially for a round two encounter.
Andy Murray has broken the heart of Aussie tennis fans by coming back from two sets down to claim a memorable victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The match lasted 5 hours 45 minutes and ended at 4:05 am when Murray hit a backhand winner to seal a 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 victory.
Kokkinakis will look back and wonder what he did wrong. A missed smash volley on set point in the third set was telling, it was not a shot that should be missed but the pressure from Murray was too much.
The Australian then at 15-30 with Murray serving at 4-5 in the fifth set nailed a service return that went just wide, it would have brought up a handful of match points. Instead Murray held and then broke to have the opportunity to serve out the match.
Murray with so much experience did just that. A backhand winner into the open court was the final shot in an epic encounter on Margaret Court Arena.
The longest match in AO history was the 2012 men’s final that last five hours and 53 minutes, a classic match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The latest finish time for a match at the Australian Open was 4:34 a.m. — when Lleyton Hewitt outlasted Marcos Baghdatis in the 2008 Australian Open third round 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
Murray now has a third-round match against No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. It was Bautista Agut who beat Murray at the 2019 Australian Open, which many thought would send Murray into retirement due to a hip injury. But Murray is back and fighting to the end.
Murray could barely lift his legs between points but he was saving his energy for the points that mattered. Time and again he chased balls and won the key points.
For world no. 66 Murray, it is the 11th time he has recovered from a two-set deficit in his career and the first time he has done so at the Australian Open.
Kokkinakis was up 5-2 in the third set and looking to be cruising to a straight sets victory.
Murray held serve to love in the eighth game of that set to put pressure on Kokkinakis. Two unforced errors quickly saw the Australian at 0-30. Two winners saw him at 30-30 and two points from victory.
Two more errors however saw Murray break to get back on serve at 4-5.
The set would go to a tiebreaker, a breaker that was level at 5-5 before two errors cost the Australian the chance to again close out the match.
In the fourth set some epic games opened the set. First it was Murray serving and he fought off some break points. Next Kokkinakis had a long game where he also saved break points.
Murray got the key break in the sixth game of the set to lead 4-2. In the ninth game Murray saved two break back points before sending the match into a fifth set.
Both players were still playing at an amazing level as the match duration entered a fifth hour.
In the seventh game Kokkinakis battled his way from 0-40 to hold serve. Murray then held to love to put the pressure straight back on the Australian.
It was in the 11th game that saw some costly errors from Kokkinakis. The Australian was at 15-40 and fighting to hold serve. A forced error against Murray and an Ace got the score to deuce before an unforced error gave Murray another break point. It was again saved before Murray forced an error to give him yet another chance to break. This time he hit a winner to take a 6-5 lead.
Murray lost just one point as he served out one of his most memorable Australian Open victories, it even topped his round one win over the 13th Matteo Berrettini, also a five setter and a match where Murray saved a match point.
“I don’t know. It was unbelievable that I managed to turn that round,” said Murray afterwards.
“Thanasi was playing, I mean, serving unbelievable, hitting his forehand huge and I don’t know how I managed to get through it.
“I did start playing better as the match went on. And yeah, I have a big heart.
“I think now I’m outright the most matches coming back from two sets to love down. So I have done it before, I have experience of it, and I just rely on that experience and that drive and that fight, and my love of the game, and competing, and my respect for this event, and the competition.
“That’s why I kept going.”