MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Andy Murray dipped into the depth of his defensive abilities to tame big-hitting Nikoloz Basilashvili throughout an exciting 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 win on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Australian Open for the primary time in 5 years.
The former world primary, a five-time finalist at Melbourne Park, has seen his rating plummet since hip surgical procedure in 2019 and lengthy harm layoffs that adopted and wanted a wildcard into the primary draw of this yr’s match.
The 113th-ranked Murray, who gained the final of his three main titles at Wimbledon in 2016, confirmed he nonetheless had the sport to bother high gamers on the tour and compelled the twenty first seed from Georgia into making a litany of errors.
It was Murray’s first match at Melbourne Park since a five-set defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut in 2019. He skipped the 2018 and 2020 tournaments with harm and likewise missed the final version after testing constructive for COVID-19 within the leadup.
“It’s superb. It’s been a troublesome three-four years. I’ve put in plenty of work to get again right here,” Murray mentioned in his on-court interview. “I’ve performed on this court docket many occasions and the environment is unimaginable. I’ve all the time had improbable assist.
“This is the one the place I believed probably I’d performed my final match on three years in the past however superb to be again profitable a five-set battle like that. Can’t ask for something extra.”
This was the third assembly between the pair with the British 34-year-old, who reached the fourth round on the Australian Open in 2017, triumphing in each earlier encounters together with final week’s win en route to the ultimate in Sydney.
Basilashvili, 29, dedicated 99 unforced errors, a lot of which got here when the Murray ran from one finish of the court docket to the opposite to defend doggedly and making his opponent play an additional shot within the rallies.
Murray typically had to lean on his racquet to catch his breath for just a few seconds because the match went right into a deciding set however after an trade of breaks he transformed one other alternative to seal the win after virtually a four-hour battle.
After Basilashvili discovered the web together with his return on his third match-point, Murray set free an enormous roar and a “let’s go” as an appreciative crowd on the John Cain Arena showcourt gave him a standing ovation.
“He hits the ball big from the again of the court docket,” Murray mentioned. “I had to do plenty of working right this moment, lot of defending.
“He’s not the form of man you need to see subsequent to your identify within the draw too typically. But clearly a bit little bit of confidence from the win final week and I fortunately managed to recover from the road right this moment.”
Murray will subsequent meet Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel for a spot within the third round on the yr’s first main.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; extra reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; enhancing by Robert Birsel)