Australian Open 2023: Andy Murray defeats Matteo Berrettini in first round

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The physically battered but iron-willed Andy Murray had another Rod Laver Arena crowd in awe on Tuesday, marvelling at the champion as he ousted Matteo Berrettini in the first round of the Australian Open.

It was four years ago that Murray sat down to address reporters following a first-round Australian Open exit and broke down in tears, gutted at the crushing impact of hip injuries.

He was also farewelled at Melbourne Park with a touching video montage in 2019, leaving most thinking he would not feature in another Australian Open.

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The Scot’s battles with his hips led to two surgeries, including the insertion of a metal rod, and put him on the brink of retirement.

But at the age of 35, he outlasted Berrettini in a five-set marathon on Tuesday, overcoming the tournament’s 13th seed and a man nine years younger, winning 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (6) in four hours and 49 minutes.

”I’ll be feeling this this evening and tomorrow, but right now I’m just unbelievably happy, very proud of myself,” Murray said in his on-court interview.

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“I’ve put a lot of work into the last few months with my team, who are here, to give me the opportunity to perform (in) stadiums and (in) matches against players like Matteo, and it paid off tonight.”

Murray had fallen to Berrettini in his previous singles grand slam match, going down in four sets at last year’s US Open.

The three-time singles grand slam champion saved a match point in Tuesday’s contest.

He reflected on contesting his first 10-point tiebreak in his on-court interview.

“It’s a bit different. When you’re up 6-1, 7-1 or whatever, it feels like you’re still quite far away,” said Murray, who clinched the first five points of the tiebreak.

“He came back really strong and I was just a bit lucky at the end with the net cord.

“I think some of the tennis at the end was really good — it felt like that playing,” he added, eliciting a chorus of cheers.

Murray reflects after toppling Berrettini

“I don’t know what it looked like.

“He was serving unbelievable and he’s a brilliant competitor, as well. He’s one of the best competitors on the tour. He always fights right ’til the end. So, yeah, I did well to get through.”

Murray and the game’s fans have shared a trove of fond memories at Rod Laver Arena.

He competed in the 2010, 2011 and 2013 Australian Open singles finals, albeit losing all three.

Murray, now ranked 66th in the world, will meet the winner of Thanasi Kokkinakis and Fabio Fognini in the second round of this year’s tournament.

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