Andy Murray progresses with thrilling five-set win

The Scot battled to a 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory under the roof.

ANDY MURRAY WROTE another chapter in his lengthy book of dramatic Centre Court nights by coming from two sets to one down to defeat Oscar Otte and reach the third round of a grand slam for the first time in four years.

wimbledon-2021-day-three-the-all-england-lawn-tennis-and-croquet-club Andy Murray waves to the crowd after his victory. PA PA

Not since the 34-year-old limped through to the quarter-finals here in 2017, before his two hip operations and what he thought would be the end of his career, had Murray won two matches at a slam.

And it did not look likely to happen here either when, labouring and frustrated, he saw a lead erased and the reversed by German qualifier Otte, making his Wimbledon debut.

But Murray has come back from worse situations on the lawns of SW19 and, after a break for the roof to be closed, he found some of the old magic to win 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 and set up a third-round clash with 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

The two-time champion had awoken memories of times past against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Monday, salvaging a four-set victory under the roof after blowing a seemingly insurmountable lead in the third.

The big question was how well he had recovered physically and, although he began a little gingerly, he settled into the match well, making few errors and showing Otte the way around a grass court.

Murray broke the big-serving 27-year-old twice and seemed to be well on his way to round three when he moved 3-1 ahead in the second.

But a loose service game, coupled with a more aggressive approach from his opponent, turned the match completely on its head.

Otte, who led Alexander Zverev by two sets to love in the first round of the French Open, won four games in row before serving out the second set, and it was a weary-looking Murray who was broken in the seventh game of the third.

The 34-year-old’s movement lacked sharpness and too often his shots did not have sufficient weight behind them to put Otte under any real pressure.

The German had to wait for an ailing line judge to be replaced before serving for a two-sets-to-one lead, but it did not put him off.

There was a worrying moment for Murray and his many fans inside Centre Court when he became the latest player to slip in the second game of the fourth set, letting out a cry and clutching his groin.

But there did not appear to be any lasting damage and two games later the match was paused so the roof could be closed.

Against Basilashvili, the closing of the roof had helped Murray turn the match back in his favour and there were positive signs on the resumption as the Scot found a bit more pop on his shots and in his legs and broke for 4-2.

The cheers turned to groans when Murray was unable to serve it out at 5-3 but he showed once again that his competitive desire knows no bounds by breaking again to force a decider.

Murray’s physical resurgence was encouraging, and Centre Court was on its feet again when he broke at the first opportunity in the fifth set.

There may not be many more opportunities for the Scot to experience such moments and he drank it all in as he survived several long service games and then clinched victory with a trademark lob.

Speaking to the crowd, Murray said with a slightly rueful smile: “I enjoyed the end, the middle part not so much. What an atmosphere to play in at the end. I needed everyone’s help tonight. I played some great shots at the end to finish it but it was a tough match.

“I had to do something differently. I started going for my shots more, started dictating more of the points. I think I played the right way the last couple of sets. The first set and a half was really good, it’s just the bits in the middle I’d like to change.

“I’m obviously tired. I fell over a couple of times, pretty slick courts. Considering everything, I feel all right. Hopefully I come out on Friday and play in another atmosphere like this and hopefully perform well.”

Elsewhere, Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios won his first match in four months.

Kyrgios, ranked 60, but a quarter-finalist on debut in 2014, won his first match since the Australian Open in February, defeating French 21st seed Ugo Humbert before declaring: “Not bad for a part-time player”.

Kyrgios triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 9-7 in a match held over from Tuesday evening when the final set was level at 3-3.

“Ugo is an incredible kid and I knew I was a massive underdog,” said Kyrgios after firing 23 aces and 51 winners.

Kyrgios also shrugged off an ugly-looking fall in the 13th game of the final set when his right knee buckled beneath him.

On Tuesday, he was overheard muttering that Court One was “a joke”.

- Additional reporting from © – AFP, 2021

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