Two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray edged 13th seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in an instant classic decided by a fifth-set tie-break 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(10-5) to advance to the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The win was Murray’s first Top-20 victory at a Grand Slam in more than four years, which required four hours and 49 minutes to secure the statement result in Rod Laver Arena.
He will next face either another Italian Fabio Fognini or the home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Moreover, the five-time runner-up in Melbourne, became the fifth man in the Open Era to reach the 50-wins mark at the season’s first major.
Murray is through to the Australian Open second round for the second consecutive year and 12th time overall. He is a five-time finalist at the event, with all five of those runs coming from 2010-16.
Berrettini had not lost in the first round of a major since the 2019 Australian Open. Prior to this fortnight, he had reached the quarterfinals or better in each of his past five Grand Slam appearances, including a run to the Wimbledon final in 2021.
Murray took the opening two sets and he blunted the Italian’s powerful forehand by combining slice with power in the third set. With neither man able to break serve after Berrettini made his lone breakthrough to lead 3-2 in the third set, the result hinged on late drama in the final two sets.
Italian combined his power with just enough defending and patience in the crucial moments to win the fourth set. Murray came tantalisingly close to match point twice in the fourth-set tie-break, only to be thwarted by moments of Berrettini brilliance.
A desperate one-handed pass from the Italian drew an error from a diving Murray at 6/6, before Berrettini handled a vicious Murray pass attempt and forced another miss two points later.
The Briton left nothing to chance in the fifth set, racing out to a 5/0 lead in the tie-break before clinching victory.