Five-time finalist Andy Murray has showed his fighting qualities to oust 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in five sets and move into the Australian Open second round.
- Murray was making just his second appearance at Melbourne Park in five years
- He says it was an “amazing” feeling to win in five sets
- Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner were among those who joined Murray in the second round
Playing just his second tournament at Melbourne Park in five years due to two major hip surgeries, the Scot fashioned a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 victory in a marathon clash on John Cain Arena on Tuesday.
“It has been a tough, tough three or four years and I put in a lot of work to get back here,” Murray said in his courtside interview.
“I played on this court many times. This is the one where I thought potentially I had played my last match three years ago, but it is amazing to be back winning a five-set battle like that.
“I couldn’t ask for any more.”
The 34-year-old looked like he may run out of steam heading into the fifth set, having already played five times last week en route to the final in Sydney.
Granted a wildcard into the Open, Murray — who made five finals between 2010 and 2016 — dug deep and broke the Georgian early in the deciding set, taking a 4-1 lead.
But Basilashvili — who he beat in the second round in Sydney — would not bow down and clawed his way back to level at 4-4.
Basilashvili’s serve then failed him at the final hurdle, giving Murray three match points to secure the win.
“It was a brutal match in Sydney. We played three hours over three sets,” Murray said.
“He hits the ball huge from the back of the court and I had to do a lot of running today, a lot of defending.
“He is not the sort of guy whose name you want to see next to yours in the draw very often so I took obviously a bit of confidence from the win last week, and thankfully I managed to get over the line today.”
In other results in the men’s draw late on Tuesday, ninth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime won in five sets over Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 0-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
John Isner — seeded 22nd at Melbourne Park — fell in five sets to fellow American Maxime Cressy 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 in a match lasting four hours and 10 minutes.
Italy’s 11th seed Jannik Sinner had earlier enjoyed an easier passage through to the second round, winning 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 against Portuguese “lucky loser” Joao Sousa.