Andy Murray has wound back the clock in an extraordinary first round win against Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open. The three-time major winner sizzled on Rod Laver Arena on a sweltering day that saw matches suspended for several hours on outside courts at Melbourne Park after officials invoked the extreme heat rule.
On centre court at Melbourne Park, it was the 35-year-old veteran that proved too hot to handle, booking his place in the second round with a pulsating 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 7-6 win. In a vintage display inside a raucous centre court stadium, Murray showed flashes of the champion of old as he ran the big-hitting Italian all over the court.
'LOST FOR WORDS': Aussies in epic display after Nick Kyrgios drama
Murray began the match in inspired fashion, taking the opening two sets to leave Berrettini in shock and the Brit's legion of fans dreaming of another fairytale moment at Melbourne Park. The Italian edged a hard-fought second set, with nothing able to separate the two players in the fourth set.
Berrettini had to serve to stay in the match after Murray nudged ahead 6-5 but the big-serving 26-year-old held his nerve to force a fourth set tiebreak. Murray had the packed stadium on its feet after an incredible pass in the breaker, before saving a set point to square things up at 6-6.
The Brit soon found himself another set point down after his diving volley at the net sailed marginally long. However, an uncharacteristically poor unforced error from the Italian saw the chance go begging.
Murray missed a glorious chance of his own when he hooked an attempted lob wide, with Berrettini attacking the net. The Italian finally converted his third set point after wearing down Murray with his powerful baseline hitting to win another high quality rally to send the match into a deciding fifth set.
Murray is renowned for being one of the fittest players on tour but it was Berrettini that looked full of running in the fifth set. The Italian seemed to have most of the answers to what Murray threw up, although both players looked fairly comfortable on serve.
With neither man able to grab the crucial break it was Berrettini that forced Murray to serve to stay in the contest after going ahead 5-4 in an attritional deciding set. The Italian had the veteran on the ropes after snatching a match point chance but squandered the opportunity as his nervy volley hit the net.
Murray eventually held serve but soon found his back against the wall once again as Berrettini's serve proved impossible to crack. The Brit enjoyed a straightforward game on his own racquet as the match fittingly headed for another tiebreak to decide the contest.
The 35-year-old raced out to a 3-0 lead in the breaker after an exhibition of precision hitting from the baseline. A sloppy error at the net from Berrettini increased Murray's advantage and when the players changed ends after six points, it was the Brit who held a five-point lead.
Tennis world erupts over incredible Andy Murray win
Berrettini seemed shell-shocked as the guile and experience of his veteran opponent shone through. Despite the Italian's best efforts to hang on, Murray finally sealed the super tiebreak 10-6 to book his spot in the second round and send the tennis world into meltdown.
The drama left viewers around the world in disbelief, with many gobsmacked by the fact it was only a first round match. The high quality contest had fans at Melbourne Park on the edge of their seats and viewers unable to switch off their TV sets.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.