Murray Outlasts Kokkinakis In Early Morning Australian Open Thriller, Djokovic Survives
Andy Murray turned back the clock to author yet another incredible escape last night at the Australian Open.
Murray came from two sets down for a record 11th time in stunning home favorite Thanasi Kokkinakis 4-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5. The match set all kinds of records for the Scott – both his longest match at 5 hours, 45 minutes and his latest finish at 4:05am local time.
“Thanks to everyone for staying. It’s ridiculously late and you didn’t need to do that but it really helps me and Thanasi creating an amazing atmosphere,” Murray told the crowd. “Everyone including me, should all get off to bed now.”
Kokkinakis was on his way to victory hours earlier serving for the match up two sets and 5-3 before things completely unraveled. Murray and his metal hip started pushing the lankly Australian around the court, and in the big moments Kokkinakis failed to deliver.
Kokkinakis went 0-for-6 on break chances in the fourth and in the fifth was two points away from the win. Murray, though, ever resilient show the championship fight to win his second straight marathon 5-setter.
“It was unbelievable I managed to turn that around,” said Murray. “Thanasi was serving unbelievably and hitting his forehand huge. I don’t know how I managed to get through it. I did start playing better as the match went on, but yeah, I have a big heart.
“I now am outright the most wins coming from two-sets-to-love down, so I have done it before. I have experience of it. I just rely on that experience and drive. That fight and love for the game and competing and my respect for this event and the competition and that is why I kept going.”
This fucking sport man…..😔
— Thanasi Kokkinakis (@TKokkinakis) January 19, 2023
After two very tough matches, Murray will now have to deal with Roberto Bautista Agut Saturday night. The Spaniard had to make his own comeback from two sets down to defeat qualifier Brandon Holt in five sets.
The American men, though, had another fabulous day. JJ Wolf hammer the ailing Diego Schwartzman in straight sets. Lucky loser Michael Mmoh upended the out-of-shape Alexander Zverev in four sets and in the big upset of the afternoon, Jenson Brooksby ousted world No. 2 Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2.
Ruud look off early as his shots failed to penetrate the court or Brooksby. But the young American, making his Australian debut, was just to cagey for Ruud. Ruud would fight off three match points in the third to force a fourth. But the Norwegian’s extended break bathroom break appeared to have killed his momentum. Brooksby, who looked tired after losing the third, cruised from there.
“First and foremost, Casper is a warrior,” Brooksby said. “I knew it would be great battle out there. I was pretty confident with my level and just wanted to have fun competing out there.
“I was just really proud of my mental resolve there, after the third-set battle didn’t go my way, to just turn it around.”
Ruud follows his idol Rafael Nadal out the door as the top two seeds are gone.
“It was a tough match out there,” Ruud said. “In the third I was able to come back from set points down and saved some set points in quite a way. I felt like I was working my way into the match but I had a poor start in the fourth,” said Ruud.
“Then Jenson clipped some great returns and clean return winners on my serves. Got a couple of breaks. I couldn’t recover from that, unfortunately. I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially wasn’t enough.”
He added that he liked Brooksby’s game.
“I think it’s fun to watch him because it looks very different for many players,” he said. “It’s a tough matchup for me, and I know it’s going to be for many years probably. I will try to learn from it. I think that he played great today.”
Also in the evening, Novak Djokovic got past Enzo Couacaud of France 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0. Djokovic was dominating early but late in the second had yet another hamstring issue. Djokovic had to leave the court but returned to form in the third and fourth sets.
“There was a lot happening in tonight’s match,” Djokovic said after. “He deserves credit for the fight. He played some great tennis, especially in the second set. He deservedly pushed the match to four sets.
“We both had some medical timeouts and struggled a little bit but I managed to respond well in the third and fourth. I love playing night sessions. Let’s keep it going.”
Djokovic will now take on a very in-form Grigor Dimitrov.
Also hitting the exits was the highly touted Taylor Fritz who succumbed to Alexei Popyrin in five sets. Fritz has now lost his last three Australian Open matches in five sets.
On Friday, third round play begins with Stefanos Tsitsipas and the big Russians Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov who face Americans.
FRIDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
KREJCIKOVA, Barbora (CZE) vs. KALININA, Anhelina (UKR)
TSITSIPAS, Stefanos (GRE)  vs. GRIEKSPOOR, Tallon (NED)
PERA, Bernarda (USA) vs. GAUFF, Coco (USA) 
KEYS, Madison (USA)  vs. AZARENKA, Victoria 
KORDA, Sebastian (USA)  vs. MEDVEDEV, Daniil 
Margaret Court Arena – 11:00 AM
FUCSOVICS, Marton (HUN) vs. SINNER, Jannik (ITA) 
Not before: 1:00 PM
PEGULA, Jessica (USA)  vs. KOSTYUK, Marta (UKR)
SWIATEK, Iga (POL)  vs. BUCSA, Cristina (ESP)
HURKACZ, Hubert (POL)  vs. SHAPOVALOV, Denis (CAN) 
ZHU, Lin (CHN) vs. SAKKARI, Maria (GRE) 
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