Tennis: Tsitsipas ends Murray’s hopes with comeback win

Gritty Stefanos Tsitsipas fought off Andy Murray to silence a partisan Centre Court crowd with a superb five-set victory in a gripping Wimbledon second-round match on Friday.

The 24-year-old Greek trailed by two sets to one after twice Wimbledon champion Murray edged ahead in three tight sets on Thursday night before Wimbledon’s curfew halted play mid-battle.

But when the match resumed in sparkling sunshine on Friday, Tsitsipas was locked in from the first point and gradually wore down his 36-year-old opponent to carve out a 7-6(3) 6-7(2) 4-6 7-6(3) 6-4 victory.

Murray had looked favourite on Thursday night with the lights on under the closed roof as chanting fans whipped up a soccer-like atmosphere.

With the draw opening up there were even soaring hopes that the British sporting icon could challenge for an unlikely third Wimbledon title. But it was not to be.

“I’m obviously very disappointed just now,” Murray told reporters. “Obviously you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get to play here. “To be honest, every year that Wimbledon’s not gone how I would like it’s been hard.” MUTUAL RESPECT

Fifth seed Tsitsipas beat Murray in a stormy U.S. Open encounter in 2021 when the Greek was accused of cheating by the Briton after an extended bathroom break at a crucial juncture.

This time there was respect on both sides of the net as Tsitsipas produced some brave attacking play to fend off the three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one.

“It’s never easy against Andy. Everyone loves him here. It was a very difficult match and I’m impressed how well he holds up after his hip surgeries and his level today,” Tsitsipas said.

“It was nerve-racking. It was an obstacle and it’s extra difficult when you’ve grown up watching him play on this court.”

Murray showed no sign of injury after his dramatic fall late on Thursday, minutes before winning the third set, and was given raucous support again from the stands.

But Tsitsipas was incredibly composed to edge a tense fourth set on a tiebreak after both players had been rock solid on serve, as they had been throughout the contest.

Murray may rue not challenging a line call that went against him at 4-4 in the fourth set when leading 15-30 on the Tsitsipas serve. His return was called out, he did not challenge, and the ball was shown to be in.

“I mean, it was right underneath the umpire’s nose. They shouldn’t be missing that, to be honest. If they’re unsure, they should let the player know,” Murray said.

“You can obviously argue it’s my mistake. Ultimately the umpire made a poor call that’s right in front of her.”

Murray, who has not reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam since 2017 and underwent hip-resurfacing surgery in 2019, finally began to look weary in the fifth.

Errors began to come from his racket and Tsitsipas sensed his moment with a break in the third game – the first time he had taken Murray’s serve in the match.

Tsitsipas forged 5-3 ahead but Murray hung in to test the Greek’s nerve. Two match points went begging but at the third time of asking an ace ended Murray’s dream.

Tsitsipas, who also needed five sets to beat Austrian Dominic Thiem in a rain-hit first-round clash and was playing for the fourth day in a row, will face Serbia’s 60th-ranked Laslo Djere next as he eyes a long-awaited deep run.

While he reached the Australian Open final this year and the French Open showpiece match in 2021, Tsitsipas’s best Wimbledon campaign was reaching the last 16 in 2018.

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