Andy Murray’s fairytale run at the Australian Open came to an end on Saturday after he was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut.
The three-time grand slam winner has thrilled crowds in Melbourne this year by rolling back the years to win two marathon matches but Bautista Agut proved a step too far.
The Spaniard won in four sets – 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 6-4 – and looked relieved to have finally found a way past his opponent when he won match point.
Murray had spent more than 10.5 hours on court heading into the third round match and he struggled to move at points.
The 35-year-old had needed five sets to beat Matteo Berrettini in the first round of the tournament and then rallied from two sets down to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis in an epic contest which lasted five hours and 45 minutes and finished at 4.05am. The second round match, which finished on Friday morning, was the longest of Murray’s career.
It was no surprise, then, that Murray looked exhausted as he struggled to get grips with the first set which was over before it really began.
But, as he has done throughout his career, Murray dug deep and rallied from a break down in the second set to win an astonishing tie break.
It was yet another example of the grit and determination Murray brings to the sport of tennis but, on this occasion, it just wasn’t enough.
The grueling second set seemed to take its toll on Murray as Bautista Agut had the edge for the rest of the match.
Murray never went away though, and continued to punish his opponent until the very end and produced an array of stunning shots.
After losing match point, Murray received a standing ovation from the crowd as he limped off the court.
The pair had previously met on the Margaret Court Arena in 2019 in what was supposedly Murray’s last game at the grand slam.
But the veteran decided to continue his career and, after receiving multiple treatments for injuries, Murray has proved he still has more to give four years later.
“2 days ago I randomly bumped into the doctor who in 2017 told me ‘the good news is the problem you have in your hip can be fixed but you won’t be able to play professional sport again.’ I think we dispelled that myth the last 5 days,” Murray tweeted after the match on Saturday.
Bautista Agut will now play American Tommy Paul in the last 16.
“Always playing Andy is very tough,” Bautista Agut said during his on-court interview.
“He knows very well how to play a grand slam match. I am happy with how I handled the nerves and tension through the match, to play good tennis. I am very happy with the win.”