Andy Murray says he has never played a match like the epic win over Frances Tiafoe at the European Open, which was the longest three-setter of 2021.
It took three hours and 45 minutes to beat the American, a duration which would be at home with five-set thrillers at Grand Slams.
Murray won 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 and saved match points in the deciding set tie break. It was a remarkable display from both sets of players, in what was just the first round in Antwerp. The victory was sealed with a brilliant drop shot, and the pair shared a long embrace afterwards.
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“I think that’s the first time in my career I’ve played a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 [match],” said the former world number one.
I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like that. I think it’s the longest three-set match I’ve played by quite a distance. I’m tired right now, obviously it was an unbelievable battle.
Recent performances from Murray would suggest he is not far off where he would like his form to be, in what has been a frustrating few years following his hip resurfacing. He is back at the scene of his best tournament performance since that surgery, having won the title in 2019.
“Nowadays obviously my body is old now. I’ve played a lot of matches on the Tour. I don’t mind playing long matches, but that was taking it to another level,” Murray said.
“Brilliant match, amazing atmosphere, thanks to everyone who came and supported. It’s just so nice to be back and playing in front of crowds again.”
The mutual respect has always been there between both players, but after such a gladiatorial contest, Murray revealed after the match that they spent time together reliving it.
“There's obviously so much that goes into a match like that. The margins were so fine,” Murray said.
“I served particularly well at the end, which helped, and when he missed his first serve on that match point.
“I was able to capitalise on that and then in terms of what I'll remember, I just spent probably 30 minutes in the locker room afterwards just chatting to Frances really.”
Murray is next in action on Thursday against the second seed Diego Schwartzman, who was beaten by Cameron Norrie on the way to the British number one winning the Indian Wells Masters at the weekend.
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