Solely Labradors love chasing a tennis ball greater than Sir Andy Murray.

He continues to thrill and grind, and each time he defies logic on the court docket, you’re feeling Britain adores him much more than thought doable.

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Thursday afternoon within the UK was one other event once we have been gripped by Murray as soon as once more as he performed his marathon five-set match towards Thanasi Kokkinakis in Melbourne. The expertise of watching him claw his means again from two units down 1000’s of miles away towards somebody 9 years his junior blurred nostalgia, hope and the joys of the nice spectacle. However above all, there have been the acquainted feelings prompted by his fortitude: one thing alongside the strains of satisfaction and admiration.

He was enjoying a day forward of the UK, however his thoughts has all the time been a step in entrance of the remainder of us.

Andy Murray reacts after some extent throughout a marathon five-set match through which he ousted Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis. Getty Photographs

Murray might’ve known as it a day again in 2019. Nobody would’ve thought much less of him. They performed the retirement montage at John Cain Area after his first-round defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut at that 12 months’s Australian Open. His hip was in items. He had a foot and a overwhelmed physique already a step by means of the door of retirement.

As he took time away to have hip resurfacing surgical procedure, his first objective was to be pain-free sufficient to stroll up the steps. Then he noticed that outdated, mangy tennis ball in his home and took a racket to it. That wasn’t so dangerous. So he returned to coaching and the hip held up. Singles? Maybe an excessive amount of — so it was doubles first. That labored. So it was again to singles once more, and by August 2020 he was again within the US Open first-round draw. Confounding consultants and armchair critics alike, there he was, the part-mechanical marvel again on the court docket, the physique granting him an sudden epilogue.

And so 4 years on from that match towards Bautista Agut — it was one the place you targeted on each single minute element, making an attempt to take snapshots of the ultimate throes of the match, believing it to be his final — we’re again right here once more, with Murray up towards the identical opponent within the third spherical of the Australian Open.

This run is not any fluke. Murray felt good coming into the match, and spent the previous weeks in his personal tennis boot camp in Florida working with Ivan Lendl. He was comparatively pain-free and assured. However given the fragility of tennis’ relationship with destiny, we have been one backhand away from by no means being granted this extra chapter. Matteo Berrettini — who dispatched Murray on the US Open — had match level within the fifth set within the first spherical. With Murray scrambling, Berrettini had open court docket to goal at, however caught it into the online. From there Murray went on to prevail 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7 (9), 7-6 in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Phew.



Andy Murray ousts No. 13 Matteo Berrettini in 5-set thriller

Andy Murray advances to the second spherical of the Australian Open with a victory over No. 13 Matteo Berrettini.

However had Berrettini slotted tennis’ equal of an open objective, it might have robbed us of Murray’s outstanding 5 hour, 45 minute marathon match towards Kokkinakis, together with one of the vital logic-defying factors we have ever seen from him. It got here within the third set — Kokkinakis two units and a break to the great, however Murray on break level.

In his second life — successfully a sequel to the one which got here earlier than, when he received three Grand Slams — his defensive sport can match with one of the best of them, his footwork remains to be astonishing and whereas his legs could also be heavier than they was, he astounds.

4 instances Kokkinakis had the prospect to place Murray away. Every time Murray scrambled, ran and returned to sender, finally triggering an unforced error and profitable that break of serve. As Kokkinakis pummeled his racket into the bottom, Murray regarded to the gang for recognition, the lactic acid mixing with the hearth of momentum.



Murray advances to 3rd spherical after epic comeback

Former world No. 1 Andy Murray phases an unbelievable comeback towards Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis to win 7-5 within the decisive set after practically six hours of play.

Three or so hours later, and Murray had two match factors. Kokkinakis sunk to his knees in preparation and resignation, bewildered at how he’d didn’t ship the knight away on his protect. And two minutes later, after three guttural roars to have fun the 4-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-5 victory — the eleventh time Murray had managed to win a match from two units down — he instructed the spectators remaining on Margaret Courtroom Area (and the open-mouthed followers all over the world in additional hospitable time zones), “I’ve a giant coronary heart.” And therein lies Murray, succinct in phrases and actions, however maybe probably the most fascinating British sportsman in current reminiscence.

Since he has been in Melbourne this 12 months, he hasn’t given any thought to that match towards Bautista Agut from 4 years again. He tackled these feelings final 12 months — taking within the environment and recognizing what he may’ve misplaced, however nonetheless the chance forward. That is the second time he has reached the third spherical of a Grand Slam since 2017.

Murray’s objectives shift as he chases his first spot within the quarterfinal of a Slam in six years, however nonetheless he retains on strolling up the mountain. As he mentioned after that win towards Kokkinakis, “I simply depend on that have and that drive and that combat, and my love of the sport and competing and my respect for this occasion and the competitors.”

Andy Murray addresses the gang at Margaret Courtroom Area after his newest thriller. Getty Photographs

Murray 2.0 has moved us to observe his sport past a lens of nostalgia and is as an alternative embracing the unknown whereas encouraging us to do the identical. It has allowed his journey to come back full circle towards Bautista Agut again in Melbourne. There might be tears shed once more, however these can be on Murray’s phrases, quite than a collective disappointment at what we thought was farewell.

Murray will not be but prepared to curve up on the couch. That tennis ball nonetheless wants chasing.

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