Australian Open 2023: Andy Murray beats Thanasi Kokkinakis in dramatic comeback

Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Thanasi Kokkinaki. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Andy Murray produced another stunning display after coming back from two sets down to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Australian Open. Kokkinakis served for victory at 5-3 in the third set of their second-round encounter, only for Murray to show once again that his greatest asset is a stubborn refusal to lose. The 35-year-old, who had battled for nearly five hours to upset Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday in his best result since 2017, forced a deciding set and finally prevailed 4-6 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-3 7-5 at 4.05am.

At five hours and 45 minutes, it was the longest match of Murray’s whole career and the third latest finish to a tennis match ever.

Kokkinakis won the Australian Open doubles title last year with his great friend Nick Kyrgios. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The US Open saw its latest finish last year at 2.50am and this was the 32nd match to extend beyond 2am.

“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” said Murray, as he sat in a corridor in the bowels of Melbourne Park.

“We come here after the match and that’s what the discussion is, rather than it being like, ‘epic Murray-Kokkinakis match’. It ends in a bit of a farce.

“Amazingly people stayed until the end, and I really appreciate people doing that and creating an atmosphere for us. Some people obviously need to work the following day and everything.

“But if my child was a ball kid for a tournament and they’re coming home at five in the morning, as a parent, I’m snapping at that. It’s not beneficial for them. It’s not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. I don’t think it’s amazing for the fans. It’s not good for the players.

“We talk about it all the time, and it’s been spoken about for years. But when you start the night matches late and have conditions like that, these things are going to happen.”

The last comment referred to the balls being used for the tournament this year, which have drawn numerous complaints from the players for being too slow, while Murray was also unhappy at not being allowed an additional toilet break.

It was a contest that had everything, not least the quality of the rallies, which somehow did not diminish as the clock ticked on. Having spent more than 10 hours on court, Murray must now somehow try to recover for a third-round clash with Roberto Bautista Agut, the player he lost to in 2019 when it appeared his career was over.

Supporters cheer during the epic clash between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis. Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

World number 159 Kokkinakis, 26, who won the Australian Open doubles title last year with his great friend Nick Kyrgios, was bidding to become the lowest-ranked player ever to beat Murray at a grand slam. The Australian, like his opponent, has dealt with more than his fair share of injury troubles but has shown before he can rise to a big occasion, boasting wins over greats such as Roger Federer. Kokkinakis’ serve kept him in it in the decider, including recovering from 0-40 at 3-3, but at 5-5 Murray finally found a way through and he served out one of the most memorable victories of his life.

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