New York: Andy Murray may have been the forgotten man at the US Open but gave the crowd and Stefanos Tsitsipas a match to remember forcing the third seed to grind out a 2-6 7-6(7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 win on Monday to avoid the opening round shocker.
In the buildup to Flushing Meadows all the talk had centred around the Big Three, Novak Djokovic’s hunt for the calendar-year Grand Slam and the absence of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.
But Murray reminded everyone there was a fourth Beatle in that dominant group as he turned back the clock on Arthur Ashe Stadium court looking more like the player who won the 2012 US Open title than the injury ravaged 34-year-old.
After reaching the final of the French Open Tsitsipas arrived in New York seeded third and ready to take that final step to Grand Slam champion only to nearly stumble at the first hurdle, needing almost five hours in punishing conditions to see off the former-world number one.
In the end the question was always gong to be how much gas did Murray have left in the tank and the answer was not enough.
After four hours in the sweltering heat that left both men bathed in sweat, the fifth set began with Tsitsipas grabbing the early break while Murray complained with courtside officials about Tsitsipas spending too much time in the bathroom.
A fired up Tsitsipas would continue to apply the pressure but the one break was all that would be needed.
While Murray may have lost a step his warrior spirit remains intact as he provided the young Greek with a tennis master class in the first set.
After Tsitsipas held serve to open the match Murray stormed through the next five games.
With fans back in Arthur Ashe Stadium after standing empty last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the massive arena bubbled with energy that Murray tapped into using the support to full advantage on way to a 1-0 lead.