Melbourne/UNI: Britain's Andy Murray delivered a warrior’s blow by winning a five-set battle on Tuesday over Georgian 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili as he appeared for the first time at the Melbourne Park three years after.
Murray, a five-time AO finalist, cruised to the first set in 23 minutes but Basilashvili gave him a tough time in the following sets as the momentum swung both ways before the Brit took the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4.
The second set saw Basilashvili level the match by breaking the Murray serve three times.
In the third set, Murray got the better of three straight breaks and clinched it on his fourth chance as Basilashvili threw in a 25th unforced error of the set. He hung on, in the fourth as he recovered from 1-5 in the tie-break, but Basilashvili forced a decider due to Murray's loose forehands.
Murray quickly moved into a 3-0 lead in the fifth, but Basilashvili powered back again to level at 4-4 only for Murray to finally find a way across the line.
This show put up by the Brit gave an indication that just maybe he can be a factor on the big stage again.
The third court has been the scene of many Murray memories over the years. Just last week he had defeated the big-hitting Georgian after a three-hour battle.
He will now face Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round on Thursday.