ANDY MURRAY secured his first win at the Australian Open for FIVE years – and he did it in typical fashion after a five-set, four-hour epic.
The former world No1 battled past 21st seed Nikoloz Basilshvili to progress into round two in an utterly draining contest.
It took three hours and 52 minutes on court but the Brit eventually prevailed 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-4 and will face Japan’s Taro Daniel next.
Murray’s previous win at the opening Grand Slam of the year was way back in 2017.
Then top seed and the best player in the world, Murray beat American Sam Querrey in straight sets in round three before a shock exit to unseeded German Mischa Zverev, older brother of Alexander.
But three years on from an apparent retirement on the same court at this tournament – where he is a five-time runner-up – he showed a bit of everything we have got used to across his heroic career.
There was pure class, there was angry frustration but underlying it all there was a dogged determination and refusal to give up.
Murray came flying out of the blocks on John Cain Arena against Basilashvili, who he beat en route to the Sydney final last week, taking the opening set 6-1 in just 23 minutes.
But the Georgian fought back to take the second 6-3 before Murray moved 2-1 up in a brutal third set.
And the physical contest did not let up in the 69-minute fourth, either.
The Brit went a break down but broke straight back for 4-3 and then saved set points serving at 4-5 as they headed into a tie-break.
And it was the No21 seed who played it better, racing into a 5-1 lead before just about seeing it out to take the match into a fifth and final set.
Basilashvili had won six of his seven five-set matches.
But Murray looked fresh and focused going into the decider, tapping into his 17 years of Grand Slam experience and 691 career wins by setting himself up with an immediate break of serve.
When it looked to be a routine progression over the line, it was anything but.
Basilashvili earned the break back at 4-2 and recovered from 0-30 in the next game to hold.
It was Murray, though, who somehow dug deep enough to find that something extra that saw him over the line.
Basilashvili lost his composure under immense pressure and Murray secured the phenomenal win when his opponent netted a forehand on the third match point.
More to follow…