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Andy Murray defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis in Australian Open marathon ending at 4am

Key Points
  • Andy Murray defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in a five-set comeback victory, earning a spot in the Australian Open third round.
  • The former world number one won 4-6 6-7 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5.
  • Starting at 10.22pm and ending at 4.05am, the match threatened the 2008 record for the latest grand slam finish.

Former world number one Andy Murray has shown Thanasi Kokkinakis who’s boss, grinding out a five-set comeback victory to earn a spot in the Australian Open third round.

Winning the opening two sets and leading 5-2 in the third, Kokkinakis looked on track to complete a rare daily treble by Australian men, with Alexei Popyrin and Alex de Minaur earlier banking rousing second-round wins.

But instead the South Australian was left heartbroken with the Scot taking out a 4-6 6-7 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 defeat which lasted five hours 45 minutes – the second longest in Australian Open history.

Starting at 10.22pm and ending at 4.05am, the match threatened the record for the latest grand slam finish which was a 4.34am epic in 2008 at Melbourne Park when Lleyton Hewitt trumped Marcos Baghdatis.

With his early career ravaged by injury, Kokkinakis had never previously gone past the Open second round, only once before reaching the third round at a grand slam with that high coming back in 2015 at the French Open.

‘We should all get off to bed now’

It looked like his fortunes would change but never-say-die Murray refused to stay on script.

“It’s unbelievable that I managed to turn that around,” said the 35-year-old, with the match the longest of his stellar career.

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“Thanasi was serving unbelievably well, hitting his forehand huge and I don’t know how I managed to get through it.

“I did start playing better as the match went on and I have a big heart.

“It’s amazing to win the match but now I want to go to bed.”

“Everyone, including me, I think we should all get off to bed now.”

A tennis player hits a shot during a match.

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia hits a shot against Andy Murray on day four of the 2023 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park. Source: AAP / USA TODAY Network/Sipa USA

Visibly shattered as he left the court, Kokkinakis wasn’t available to media as he underwent treatment for an undisclosed condition.

Kokkinakis struggled to close out the first three sets, losing five set points in the second before taking it in a tiebreak, and in the third he led 5-2.

The 26-year-old was leading 2-0 in the third when he received a time violation on his serve after restarting his action when a fan called out.

Kokkinakis stormed toward the chair umpire, remonstrating and saying it was payback because the umpire “felt bad” about giving Murray an earlier one.

Kokkinakis then lost the game, with the Australian smashing his racquet into the court and earning a code violation.

Three-time major winner Murray, ranked 66, then used the chaos to consolidate, levelling at 2-2.

Kokkinakis managed to regroup, with his firepower giving him the chance to serve for the match at 5-4. However, another wobble allowed the wily Scot back in and the home hope surrendered the tiebreak with a wild volley.

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Despite competing with a metal hip, Murray showed no signs of slowing down and dominated the fourth to put the match on level terms.

The pair went toe-to-toe in the fifth set, at 3-3 Kokkinakis saving four break points to stay on serve to the delight of the large Margaret Court Arena crowd who stayed on.

He then saved another four at 5-5, but Murray fired a forehand winner to conjure the break, allowing him to serve out the match.

Murray saved a serve for tournament officials for allowing the match to go ahead so late and was the latest player to criticise the Open balls.

“I don’t know who it’s beneficial for,” he said of the late finish.

“Rather than the discussion being about an epic Murray-Kokkinakis match it ends in a bit of a farce.

“If I had a ball kid who is coming home at 5am I’m snapping at that; it’s not beneficial for them, the umpires, the officials, I don’t think it’s amazing for the fans or good for players.”

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