The thrilling Australian Open match between Andy Murray and Thanasi Kokkinakis ended at 04:05 local time after Murray came back from being two sets down.
On a night of grueling physical and mental fortitude, Murray prevailed 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 in one of the fastest finishes in tennis history.
The second-round game began at 22:20 and went for five hours and forty-five minutes.
The 35-year-old Murray’s tumultuous career’s longest match was it.
Reaction to Murray defeating Kokkinakis in a late-night match
The two athletes shared a heartfelt hug at the net after the weary Briton successfully converted his first match point.
He then let out a big yell as he thought about one of the best comebacks of his career, his mother Judy sobbing in the stands.
Up to the very end, a large and vociferous crowd was present inside Margaret Court Arena, appreciating the efforts of both men and offering much-needed vocal encouragement.
The 2008 third-round match between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis, which ended at 04:34, is the Australian Open match with the earliest completion.
timer for Australian Open matches
Murray’s career-long match was longer than his Davis Cup match with Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in 2016.
Murray makes a comeback that is exceptional even by his own standards.
Since recovering from the hip surgery in 2019 that he believed would kill his career, Murray has consistently beaten the odds, as evidenced by his triumph on Tuesday over Italian 13th seed Matteo Berrettini.
The Scot did it again two days later with an incredible comeback, even by his standards.
Before facing 26-year-old Kokkinakis, Murray gingerly discussed the effects the five-set thriller would have on his body due to his growing age and the strain induced by his implanted metal hip. This was done amid the exhilaration of defeating Berrettini.
The former world number one stated, “I felt physically better today than I did the other day, which is a great thing, but finishing at 4am is not ideal.
Murray could not have asked for a better amount of time to recover, but the price was playing in cool conditions, which made for lengthy rallies, lengthy points, and a very long night.
The five-time Australian Open finalist took a while to get going and struggled to establish his flow; this was evident from his frequent chuntering to his support box.
On his route to taking the first two sets, Kokkinakis punished him while being supported by a boisterous audience in the originally crowded Margaret Court Arena.
You started to wonder at that point how much mental and physical stamina Murray still had.
Nearly four hours later, we knew the solution.
It was by far the longest game I’ve ever played, but Murray explained that under those circumstances, anything might have happened.
“Long rallies and long points will result from playing in the cold at that time of day with balls like those.
“The game was quite up-and-down; there were moments of suspense, excitement, and frustration.
“Although winning the game is fantastic, I’m ready to retire for the night. I desire to snooze.”
The one thing the former world number one hasn’t accomplished since making his comeback in 2019 is another deep run at a major, which he used to do frequently in his prime.
He will advance to the fourth round of a major for the first time since 2017 if he can recover enough to defeat Spanish 24-seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who strangely was the opponent he faced in what he believed to be his final Grand Slam match before the hip operation four years ago.
Who is it beneficial to? Murray was upset with the finish time.
The late conclusion raised more concerns about the scheduling and raised more queries about why tennis let this to happen.
Murray shouted in anger throughout the game when he dropped a point and questioned why they were “still playing at 3am.”
He then continued to voice his displeasure, telling a group of media waiting in a hallway below Rod Laver Arena that it was a “farce” in an effort to hasten his withdrawal.
“Who benefits from it? A comparison like that is the topic of discussion. It concludes in a comedy rather than being about an epic match, “added he.
“I find it amazing that people stayed until the very end and helped to create a mood. Some individuals must work.
“However, if my child was a ball kid for the tournament and they returned at 5am, I would be upset.
“It is not advantageous to them, the umpires, or the officials. For the fans, I don’t think it’s wonderful. It is detrimental to the players.”