A weeknight at Wimbledon, and it had to be Andy Murray serving up a primetime thriller for the Centre Court.
It was as if nothing had changed, as if his hip had never been surgically repaired, when he launched another of his trademark fightbacks on the grand old arena against an opponent of the highest class. We have seen this movie before.
At the end of the evening, with the compulsory 11pm curfew fast closing in, Murray had recovered to be leading the world number five 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, the result of two hours and 54 minutes of pulsating tennis.
Referee Gerry Armstrong walked on at 1040pm to tell the two protagonists to down tools for the evening. This was the consequence of scheduling two men’s matches after the newly delayed 1.30pm starts, designed to provide evening drama.
The two men had certainly done that, and Murray was initially disappointed with the inevitable suspension. ‘Why?’ he asked Armstrong, but there was little alternative because nothing that had gone before suggested that there would be a swift resolution to this scrap.
here had even been a late injection of theatrics on the penultimate point, when the Scot had fallen to the ground with a yelp of pain, clutching his groin.
It turned out to be more an expression of shock than anything. As the crowd looked on in horror he slowly got up, dusted himself down and delivered a pinpoint first serve that was returned long.
The crowd booed at the conclusion because they wanted more, and now it is Friday ticketholders who will get to see the denouement, second match on the afternoon schedule.
There had been something timeless about Murray the fighter, coming back here eighteen years after his debut and still defying medical science with the metal insertion in his body.
He had served brilliantly in the third set, but until the end of the second had been ticking with frustration. At the back of his mind will have been the knowledge that his opponent had played for just shy of four hours in his previous round, taken that far by former US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
So when he clinched the second tiebreak 7-2 he knew there was a chance to seize the moment in the event of a downward turn at the other end. The two players had gone for toilet break, the moment in the event of a downward turn at the other end. The two players had gone off court for a toilet break at the end of the second, with Murray returning the quicker.
When the Greek reappeared in more leisurely fashion – after a hiatus of five minutes – he was roundly booed, some clearly remembering the events of Flushing Meadows when he upset the Scot by taking an even longer visit to the Gents.
But Murray was able to seal third set and left court at 10.40pm, with play to resume on Friday
Like all his opposition Murray would try and probe away at that flank, but was unable to break it down in a desperately tight first set that tilted away from him as it went on. The Greek deservedly took the first tiebreak 7-3, managing to land his first serve in every time and turning it at 3-3, when he ran round his backhand to smack a winner.
Murray gradually gained the ascendancy in the second, but still failed to gain an break point opportunity after sending two of his rackets off for restringing.
The key to the second tiebreak was Tsitsipas missing his first serve. Murray got a mini-break for 2-1, held his own for 4-1, and levelled the match when he clinched the second shootout 7-2.
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