By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Former world no. 1 male lawn tennis player Andy Murray immediately turned heads in his first-round match in the ongoing Australian Open after pulling off a five-set thriller victory over Matteo Berrettini- 6.3, 6.3, 4.6, 6.7, 7.6- last January 17, 2023, held at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Murray, who fell to a current rank of world no.66 due to his absence from the sport after rehabilitating his injuries, took down the higher-seeded Berrettini who is the world’s no. 13 player.
It was like watching Murray turn back the hands of time after outlasting the Italian superstar in an epic five-hour duel.
Murray looked to put the match in the bag after taking the first two sets with ease but Berrettini bounced back in the next two sets after playing with a more controlled shot selection.
With Berrettini more conscious of the shots that he took, his unforced errors also lessened which allowed him to strike back and regain momentum.
Despite the pressure mounting on Murray after giving up his 2-0 lead, the veteran athlete showed poise under pressure and was able to counter Berrettini’s rejuvenated baseline game with his signature court mastery.
Murray’s dedication in picking up Berrettini’s drop shots helped him spark his comeback in the final set and focused on attacking the Italian’s backhand in the last rallies.
Aside from his tireless motor around the court, Murray’s net game was also on point during the fifth set’s last six exchanges.
When Berrettini decided to stick with his groundstroke game, Murray countered by attacking the net and closing the gap.
The win rewarded Murray with another chance to push deep into the 2023 Australian Open and clinch his first Grand Slam title since returning to the sport.