MELBOURNE, Australia — This country has a well-earned status as a land of extremes: fatally poisonous snakes, deadly insects, killer crocodiles, drenching rains and brutal heat.
The Australian Open got a good dose of that Tuesday — well, not a lot the killer bugs or crocs or snakes, though the park next to the tennis center does have signs warning visitors to watch out for snakes. The warmth got so intense that play was halted for a lot of the afternoon. Within the evening, a torrential rain fell, halting play over again.
Keeping with the theme of utmost, somewhere within the midst of all this weather, Andy Murray, the 35-year-old three-time Grand Slam winner and former world No. 1, one way or the other managed to show back the clock and beat Matteo Berrettini of Italy in five sets, including a deciding super-tiebreaker at the tip of the fifth set. The ultimate rating line looked like this: 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10-6). The match lasted 4 hours 49 minutes. Murray, who’s in the midst of a yearslong comeback from major hip surgery, saved a match point and played the ultimate set with blood coming out of his knee after skinning it on the bottom attempting to win it in 4.
“I feel drained,” Murray said in his news conference slightly greater than two hours after he finished.
“Impressive what he could do after so many surgeries, in spite of everything the kilometers that he ran in his profession,” Berrettini said of Murray. “It just shows how much he loves the sport, how much he loves these sort of matches.”
Murray and Berrettini were lucky. They played in Rod Laver, one among three courts here with roofs, which were closed when organizers announced that while temperatures had not hit triple digits, the 4 climate aspects they consider when deciding whether to halt play — air temperature, radiant heat, humidity and wind speed — had all tipped the size.
The 2023 Australian Open
The yr’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 29 in Melbourne.
Taylor Fritz of america, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in 4 sets, said he had felt way more discomfort in Washington, D.C., last summer or on the U.S. Open some years.
“It’s dry heat,” said Fritz, who has spent loads of afternoons in smothering humidity in Florida. “I don’t think it’s as bad.”
The weather played havoc with the schedule, and with rain forecast on and off through the evening it appeared that loads of matches may not finish until Wednesday.
In case you like upsets, Tuesday was not your day. Murray’s was the large one. Berrettini, a finalist at Wimbledon in 2021, was the thirteenth seed, and along with his big serve and forehand he could be as dangerous as anyone apart from the nine-time champion Novak Djokovic, who beat Roberto Carballés Baena of Sapin in straight sets within the late match on Rod Laver, a court and time slot that Djokovic loves.
Murray credited a three-week journey to Florida last yr to coach with Ivan Lendl, the coach who has been with him for lots of his biggest wins. The past success creates trust, Murray said, and the boldness he must compete with players a decade or more his junior. He’ll face the winner of the match between Thanasi Kokkinakis, a hometown favorite, and Fabio Fognini of Italy on Thursday, when the hot temperature is predicted to be just 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s value noting within the wake of Berrettini’s loss that there may be some chatter going around Melbourne Park and social media a couple of Netflix curse. The considering is that when you were featured within the Netflix series “Break Point,” the tennis gods are coming for you.
Nick Kyrgios, Paula Badosa, and Ajla Tomljanovic all featured heavily in “Break Point” and had to tug out with injuries. Now Berrettini is out. On the other hand, Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime have survived. Eventually, the tennis gods come for everybody except one woman and one man.
As for Wednesday, Rafael Nadal is scheduled to be back in motion against Mackenzie McDonald of america within the afternoon, but the true star power is on the night schedule.
Coco Gauff, the American star who is simply 18, takes on Emma Raducanu, who won the U.S. Open in 2021 as a qualifier and has graced magazine covers ever since. If ever there was an early-round match value setting an alarm for 3 a.m., this one may be it.