Andy Murray wins Australian Open epic at 4am and declares 'I have a big heart' after longest match of career

Andy Murray has conjured another extraordinary comeback win at the Australian Open, coming from two sets down to defeat home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis in an epic encounter which finished at 4.05am.

The second-round match lasted five hours 45 minutes and is the longest match of the 35-year-old Scot’s long and eventful career. World number 159 Kokkinakis served for victory at 5-3 in the third set on a rowdy, partisan Margaret Court Arena, 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. It was the third latest finish to a tennis match ever.

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Asked how he had managed to come through the longest match of his career, Murray told Eurosport: “I don't know. It was unbelievable that I managed turn that around. Thanasi was serving unbelievably, 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 yes, I have a big heart.”

It was a contest that had everything, not least the quality of the rallies, which somehow did not diminish as the clock ticked on. Both men were unhappy to be given time violations by umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore, while Kokkinakis, who racked up 102 winners, also received a warning for smashing his racket after a ridiculous point in the third set where Murray retrieved three smashes.

The match did not begin until after 10pm. A sizeable number of fans stuck it out to the bitter end but Murray railed to Asderaki-Moore about the lateness of the hour, branding it “disrespectful”, and the increasing number of post-midnight finishes will surely focus attention on tennis' scheduling.

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.

Murray added: “I think now I am outright the (winner of) most matches coming back from two sets to love down, so I have done it before, I have experience of it and I just rely on that experience and that drive and that fight, and my love of the game and competing and my respect for this event and the competition. That's why I kept going.”

Andy Murray fought back from two sets and 5-3 down to beat Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis in the longest match of his career. Picture: William Wert / Getty

Explaining his emotions on the court, he added: “I'm aware I don't look particularly happy when playing but I'm at my happiest on the inside. I've always loved competing and always showed my emotions when I've played. I've been criticised a lot for it over the years but thats who I am.”

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Elsewhere, Britain’s Dan Evans kept his cool through an umpiring controversy to race past Jeremy Chardy in straight sets and into the third round of the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic admitted he is worried about his prospects for the rest of the tournament after his left hamstring problem flared up again during a second-round victory over Enzo Couacaud. “I am worried,” he said. “I cannot say that I'm not. I have reason to be worried.”

Djokovic also had an animated discussion with the umpire over the antics of a drunk fan who was heckling him, calling for the man to be thrown out, which duly happened. “The guy's drunk out of his mind,” Djokovic said to Fergus Murphy. “From the first point he's been provoking me. He's not here to watch tennis, he just wants to get in my head.”

Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis embrace at the end of an incredible marathon match. Picture: Ng Han Guan / AP
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Second seed Casper Ruud admitted a lengthy exhibition tour with Rafael Nadal may have compromised his chances following his 6-3 7-5 6-7 6-2 defeat by American Jenson Brooksby. The Norwegian, a finalist at the French Open and US Open last year, had limited pre-season training after joining Nadal on a tour of Latin America lasting nearly two weeks. He said: “(The preparation) was maybe not enough to be able to perform well here this year. So it will be considered by me and my team.”

Tearful women’s second seed Ons Jabeur was also dumped out in the second round, losing 6-1 5-7 6-1 to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in a match that finished well after midnight. The Tunisian, a finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, had set big ambitions for herself before the event but struggled in her first-round match and came unstuck here against classy Czech Vondrousova.

Fourth seed Caroline Garcia and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka both made it through.

The scoreboard shows the match time of 5 hours and 45 minutes. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty
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Judy Murray jeers on her boy in Melbourne. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty