Thursday, January 20

Andy Murray Strikes Back to Beat Oscar Otte in Epic Five-Set Wimbledon | Wimbledon

It was too familiar a sight; Andy Murray struggling with everything he has deep in a south west London night on center court that has seen many of his biggest wins, but even 16 years after his Wimbledon debut, it never goes out of style. .

Not to the fans who cheered and clapped until it was all over with a sweet sickly balloon winner, not to Murray who dived into those unfathomable reserves of willpower that have sustained him for so long and emerged, somehow, with another win to reach the third round. Wimbledon defeating German Oscar Otte 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

It’s the first time Murray has gone this far in one hit since 2017, when he was the world’s number one player when his hip had started to sag. This time, he did so by enduring serious unforced errors, incandescent frustration and numerous falls on a dangerous court, but still reeling from two sets to one against to win once again on his well-crafted metal hip.

“I enjoyed the ending,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “The middle part not so much. What an atmosphere to play. The whole crowd was amazing, but there were some guys who were raving about it. He needed everyone’s help tonight. They did a great job. I played big balloons to finish it, but it was a difficult game. “

After his surprise first-round win against Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 24th seed, what awaited Murray was another scenario he has not endured in recent years. His opponent, Oscar Otte, was an inexperienced German qualifier ranked 33 places behind Murray at No. 151. This was, on paper, a clear opportunity in a rare match in which he remained the favorite.

Andy Murray returns serve during the first set.
Andy Murray returns serve during the first set. Photograph: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian

However, the last time Murray won a Grand Slam match, his five-set fight at the US Open last year was as far as his body could go. When he faced Felix Auger-Aliassime again in the second round, his body was in tatters and he was easy prey. The clear concern was whether he would recover this time, something Murray was curious to know about himself.

When it started against Otte, the initial feedback was positive. He looked strong, his serve rebounded from the opening sets of his first-round match, he continued to move smoothly and cause errors with his skidded slice. But as the game progressed, Murray’s level began to falter and his game was filled with mistakes.

As in his first round, when he nearly blew a 5-0 lead in straight sets, Murray attributed his errant play to his lack of matches in recent years.

He just hasn’t played enough games in recent years to feel comfortable under pressure and with so much at stake, it shows in the wrong decisions and soft mistakes.

A tall, bearded German with great service and wide confidence on the esplanade, Otte had already shown his strength by beating qualifying partner Arthur Rinderknech 13-12 (2) in the fifth set of a match played along long two days.

As Murray faltered, he stepped forward, pinning the Scotsman behind the baseline as he rallied from 6-3, 3-1 down to launch two successive sets with impenetrable serve.

Andy Murray celebrates his victory.
Andy Murray celebrates his victory. Photograph: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian

Murray’s attempts to counterattack were halted at 1-0 when he became the last player to land on the center court turf and for a disturbing brief moment he stood up holding his groin. But he shook off the knock and held serve again before umpire Aurelie Tourte announced that the roof would be used due to bad lighting with the score tied 2-2 in the fourth set.

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Murray returned a different player. He was determined to prevail at the rallies much more than he had throughout the game. He smashed a cross forehand at the opening spot and then advanced as such, immediately breaking serve. Although Murray was unable to serve the set, he only emboldened him to conduct his affairs on his own terms. He made his charge at 5-4, closing the set with back-to-back volley and backhand winners.

In the final set, the crowd screamed with each point as Murray constantly screamed. He finished the match with a variety of inspired shots, including a backhand shot after an epic game at 4-2 and then a backhand lob to hold on. After a warm hug with Otte, Murray thanked one particularly vocal fan by giving him a souvenir Wimbledon umbrella and one of his t-shirts.

Then Murray packed his bags, gave an interview, and then quickly left. Unlike much of his final months and years of rehab and pain, there is another game to play.

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“Obviously, it’s hard to go out and play games of that length when you know that you haven’t had many games, that you haven’t played a lot of grass court tennis in four years,” Murray said.

“So yeah. It’s been tough. That’s one of the reasons I keep playing is for moments like that. Why would you want to give that up? The atmosphere last, I mean, the whole game was good, but especially the last hour and a half was brilliant. I still enjoy it. “

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