Murray’s Marvelous Melbourne Magic

Photo by Getty

Bill Simons

Andy Murray is a British knight. He’s an Olympic champion. He was the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 76 years.  But now he probably shouldn’t even be playing the surprisingly tough sport of tennis. 

“Every time I think of the operations he’s had, I want to scream,” said broadcaster Kate Kerns. “There’s a man out there with steel in his hip.”

Plus, no other player has faltered on a Grand Slam court quite like Murray has on Rod Laver Arena. The Canberra Times noted Murray’s Melbourne misery: “With finals losses to Djokovic in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, and to Federer in 2010, no man has endured more Melbourne Park heartbreak than Murray. In fact, no man in Grand Slam history has endured five finals defeats at the same major without getting their hands on the trophy.”

But the best player in British history has fire in his belly, a fighting spirit you see and feel. There’s a reason he’s mentioned in the same breath as Rafa, Roger and Novak. 

After Andy went up two sets on the No. 13 seed Matteo Berrettini, the burly Italian and former Wimbledon finalist turned the match around and gained a match point. 

But a (nothing-but-the-middle-of-the-net) Berrettini backhand was crucial. Matteo’s crunch-time brick gave life to the lumbering 35-year-old Scot who managed to push the marathon to a fifth-set tiebreak, where he sprinted to a 5-0 lead before prevailing, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (6) in 4:49.

The Tennis Channel’s Mark Petschy gushed, “Fortune favors the brave and courageous – and Murray has that in abundance. This was another indelible memory…[We] see the pure emotion we have seen from Andy throughout the course of his career. The authenticity that has made so many fans gravitate towards him. He’s never wavered from having his opinions about the right things and he’s never wavered from the challenge of being the best professional he can be. And, boy, has he had obstacles in the past few years!”

Murray, who worked hard in Florida with his coach Ivan Lendl in the off-season, is often hard on himself.

But, after his win, Andy’s emotional intelligence was clear: “I need to give myself some credit because the last few years have been tough. I’ve lost a few of those type of matches in Slams, whether that’s the Tsitsipas match [at the 2021 US Open] or Isner at Wimbledon…[Today] I stayed strong and deserved to win…The last few years, I’ve questioned myself at times. There’s certainly a lot of people who questioned whether I could still perform…I felt very proud of myself. That’s not something I generally felt over the years…I’m just unbelievably happy.”

With his win, Murray joined Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer with 50 Aussie Open wins.

CHRISSIE ANNOUNCES SHE’S CANCER FREE – MARTINA’S BATTLING: Few players in history are linked so closely together as Chris Evert and Martina Navratliova. Last year Evert had many chemotherapy sessions and bravely fought ovarian cancer. Today she announced she is cancer free and there’s a 90% chance it won’t come back. 

Martina Navratliova is fighting throat cancer and is combating breast cancer for the second time. The 18-time Slam champion reported, “I’ve had two surgeries and four biopsies. And radiation and chemotherapy are waiting.” She is making daily appearances on the Tennis Channel.

NETFLIX CURSE: Matteo Berrettini became another victim of the “Netflix curse.” He’s the fifth player starring in the long awaited Break Point series to withdraw from or lose at the Aussie Open. Nick Kyrgios, Carlos Alcaraz,  Paula Badosa and Ajla Tomljanovic have all withdrawn with injuries.

THE GREATEST UPSETS? The win by No. 66 Andy Murray,  over No. 13 seed Matteo Berrettini, was stunning. Murray is 35, but he’s a former No. 1 who’s won three Slams. But it was far from the most shocking upset in history. The British gaming company LiveScore Bet, says these are, in order, the top ten upsets of all time (with world ranking):

– Denis Istomin (No. 117) def. Novak Djokovic (No. 2), Australian Open 2017

– Nick Kyrgios (No. 144) def. Rafael Nadal (No. 1), Wimbledon 2014

– Sergiy Stakhovsky (No. 116) def. Roger Federer (No. 3), Wimbledon 2013

– George Bastl (No. 145) def. Pete Sampras (No. 13), Wimbledon 2002

– John Millman (No. 55) def. Roger Federer (No. 2), US Open 2018

– Roberta Vinci (No. 43) def. Serena Williams (No. 1), US Open 2015

– Peter Doohan (No. 70) def. Boris Becker (No. 2), Wimbledon 1987

– Coco Gauff (No. 313) def. Venus Willaims (No. 44), Wimbledon 2019

– Lori McNeil (No. 22) def. Steffi Graf (No. 1), Wimbledon 1994

– Robin Soderling (No. 25) beat Rafael Nadal (No. 1), French Open 2009

LiveScores Bet could have included some other notable men’s and women’s upsets, including:

– Lucas Rosol def. Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2012  

– Richard Kraijcek def. Pete Sampras, Wimbledon 1996

– Michael Chang def. Ivan Lendl, French Open 1987 

– Richey Reneberg def. Boris Becker, US Open 1991

– Paul Haarhuis def. John McEnroe, US Open 1989

– Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Edberg, US Open 1990

– Ivo Karlovic def. Lleyton Hewitt, Wimbledon 2003

– Sam Querrey def. Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2016 

– Jelena Ostapenko def. Simona Halep, French Open 2017

– Lori McNeil stuns Steffi Graf in 1st round of Wimbledon 1994

– 15-year-old Chris Evert defeats world No. 1 Margaret Court in 1970

– Martina Navratilova loses to Kathy Horvath in 4th round of 1983 French Open

– 129th-ranked Jelena Dokic beats No. 1 Martina Hingis at Wimbledon 1999

 – Iva Majoli over Martina Hingis in 1997 French Open final

– Sabine Lisicki stuns Serena Williams in 4th round of 2013 Wimbledon

– Kathy Jordan upsets Chris Evert in 3rd round at Wimbledon 1983

– Karolina Sprem beats Venus Williams in Wimbledon 2nd round 2004

– No. 2 Andrea Jaeger loses in 2nd round of 1981 US Open to unseeded Andrea Leand

NOLE OKAY – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Novak Djokovic was welcomed back to Melbourne with open arms by an enthusiastic crowd. He didn’t have to run that much and wasn’t pushed greatly as he downed Spaniard Robert Caralles Baena, 6-3. 6-4, 6-0 to win his 22nd straight match in Melbourne. He conceded he hadn’t been practicing that much and then added that his leg, while not ideal, was good and feeling better.

GO FIGURE: Temperatures soared in Melbourne to over 100 degrees and the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena. Today it is raining…Taylor Fritz, the third leading favorite in the men’s draw, broke a two-Slam losing streak as he beat the considerable Nikoloz Basilahvili…Garbine Muguruza, who reached the 2020 Aussie Open final, lost her fifth straight match when she went down to Elise Mertons.

BECKER’S BROADCASTING: After serving eight months in jail and being deported from Britain, German Boris Becker is now doing commentary for Euro Sport.

FLAG FURY: After a fan draped a Russian flag on an outer court, authorities banned all Russian and Belarus flags. 

STOP, THIEF! British ump James Keothavong chased after two fans who stole towels at an outer court.

SMOOTH SAILING: After two days of play American men went 9-2. Aside from No. 13 Matteo Berrettini and No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti, the only other among the top-20 seeds who are  out of the draw is No. 19 Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew. 

VOLEY-BALL: Walnut Creek’s gritty 5’ 7” Katie Volynets, who is ranked No. 113, came through qualifying and won her first round by downing Evgeniya Rodina, 6-3, 6-2. She’ll next face a Russian, the No. 9 seed, Veronika Kudermetova. Jenson Brooksby, who like Volynets is coached by Joseph Gilbert, beat Chris O’Connell, but will next face No. 2 seed Casper Ruud. Another Northern Californian, Mackie McDonald, who also is through to the second round, also has a brutal draw. He’ll next face Rafa.

GIMME ME SHELTON: After extended heat and rain delays, young, charismatic Ben Shelton saved a match point and won his first main draw in a fifth-set tiebreak. He’ll next face Chile’s unseeded Nicolas Jarry. 

Also reporting: Steve Pratt and Vinay Venkatesh



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