From 2011-2020, Andy Murray has had the second best tiebreak winning percentage on the ATP Tour at 64.62% (second only to Novak Djokovic). This statistic shows that Murray is a cut above the rest when it comes to performing under pressure. Murray is such a clutch player – numbers like these make it apparent why the term the “Big Four” rather than the “Big Three” is preferred by many.
In honour his spectacular tiebreak record over the last decade, the following article explores the five best tiebreaks of Andy Murray’s career.
5. 2016 Paris Masters Quarterfinal v Tomas Berdych: First Set Tiebreak 11-9
Andy Murray had everything to lose going into his 2016 Paris Masters Quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych. He was amidst an 18-match winning streak. Following Novak Djokovic’s exit to Marin Cilic earlier that day, he needed only two more wins to secure the world #1 spot for the first time in his career. The pressure was well and truly on Murray to deliver.
This pressure reached boiling point when Murray stared down the barrel of five set points at 6-1 down in the first set tiebreak. Like all great champions however, Murray refused to go away. With some clutch serves and rugged defence, he erased all five. Berdych would have two more chances to take the set but was outfoxed by a timely Murray drop shot on one and hit a net-cord on the second.
After Berdych double faulted to go down 9-10, Murray would make no mistake on his first set point on serve. He hit a massive inside-out forehand to win the set and pave the way to an important victory and a landmark moment in attaining the number one ranking.
4. 2008 Wimbledon Fourth Round v Richard Gasquet: Third Set Tiebreak 7-3
Murray was down two sets to love against Richard Gasquet in the 2008 Wimbledon fourth round. He had already been on the precipice of defeat but had fought valiantly – Gasquet had served for the match in the third set but Murray had broken straight back.
If Murray had been stubborn before, he was downright bullheaded going into the tiebreak. A 131mph serve and a daring second serve and volley got Murray off to a flyer as he raced to a 4-0 lead. Gasquet scraped his way back to 3-4 but an outstanding pick up off a Gasquet drop volley and a serve out wide inched Murray ahead to 6-3. From here, Gasquet played a fantastic point, practically hitting a backhand volley into the stands before Murray passed him with the shot of the tournament, his momentum carrying him off-camera. This ignited Murray and the crowd followed suit, providing an absolutely electric atmosphere.
This tiebreak was the first step in Andy Murray’s first Grand Slam comeback from two sets to love down, displaying his grit and determination when it mattered most. It would prove an important turning point in both men’s careers; Murray won his first two masters titles and reached his first slam final later that year and went on to accrue many other records and titles, whilst Gasquet has yet to win more than a 250 series title.
3. 2012 US Open Final v Novak Djokovic: First Set Tiebreak 12-10
The first set tiebreak between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in the 2012 US Open Final was arguably the most important tiebreak Murray has ever won. Murray had lost his first four Grand Slam finals and given this match went to a fifth set, this tiebreak proved critical in him breaking his major duck. The tiebreak also holds the record for the longest in a men’s championship match at 24 minutes in length.
The play itself was somewhat scrappy due to extremely blustery winds. There was no shortage of drama, however. Djokovic saved five set points, even fighting through a 33-shot rally to save one. On Murray’s sixth set point, he hit a huge serve that cleared the net but set off the net-cord sensor. Murray stayed calm and delivered a serve down the tee that resulted in Djokovic’s return just missing the line.
The historic and dramatic nature of this tiebreak make this one of the best and most crucial of Murray’s career.
2. 2017 Dubai Tennis Championships Quarterfinal v Phillipp Kohlschreiber: Second Set Tiebreak 20-18
Murray was scheduled to face Phillipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Though Murray led their head to head 4-1, he had always faced adversity in his wins over Kohlschreiber, with all of them going to a deciding set. Nobody was expecting adversity from the German on this level, however.
In the second set tiebreak, Kohlschreiber earned his first match point after fending off three set points. At 8-9 down, Murray played the most audacious shot of his career, landing a line-licking inside-out forehand drop shot that completely surprised Kohlschreiber. The two players traded blows, taking turns to overcook then perfectly execute their groundstrokes, or deliver unreturnable serves. Amidst the chaos, the two players and the umpire even forgot to change ends at 15-15.
Murray would save a total of seven match points throughout this extraordinary tiebreak. Kudos to Kohlschreiber, who also saved seven set points of his own: after 37 points however, it was the stubborn Scot who would clinch the final point of the tiebreak.
Seven. Match. Points. Saved. If the point of this article was not to revel in nostalgia, that might be all that needed to be said on the second best tiebreak of Andy Murray’s career.
1. 2014 Valencia Open Final v Tommy Robredo: Final Set Tiebreak 10-8
In Dubai, Murray saved seven match points in the tiebreak. What is the only thing more exciting than saving multiple match points? When the player saves multiple championship points, the drama reaches fever-pitch.
When Murray was scheduled to play Tommy Robredo in the Valencia Open Final in 2014, the tension was palpable before the match had even begun. Murray had saved five championship points weeks earlier on his way to the title in Shenzhen against Robredo.
In Valencia, Murray saved two match points in the second set tiebreak. It is safe to say many were expecting a repeated of Shenzhen. Robredo was clearly mentally and physically exhausted and was trounced by Murray in the third set in China. This time, with the home-crowd behind him, Robredo was not going anywhere. A tight third set led to a match tiebreak.
After three hours of gruelling play, the two players were hitting the ball as though the match had just begun. Robredo painted the line with his forehand followed by an emphatic smash to go up 2-1. Murray replied with his own pinpoint accurate backhand up the line to even at 2-2. At four points apiece, Robredo moved up a gear. He hit a brilliant backhand approach that Murray somehow managed to keep low. Robredo was ready though and carved out a moment of magic off his shoelaces on the volley. On Robredo’s third championship point at 6-5, it all looked over when he hit his best return of the match; somehow Murray managed to get his racket on it and kept himself alive with an immaculate approach and volley. Robredo kept fighting and had Murray on the floor with a hooked smash out wide. Murray erased two more championship points, the first with a loopy forehand out wide and the second with a daring serve and volley.
On Murray’s first championship point, Robredo could only watch as a backhand sailed passed him.
The level of play and the unparalleled tension are what separate this tiebreak from the rest. The two players put absolutely everything into it. Robredo’s message to Murray when the two players met at the net after the match provides the cherry on top of this career-best tiebreak.
Everyone’s fingers are tightly crossed for Andy Murray to continue to make a successful comeback in 2021. There is no doubt he will deliver more legendary moments like these if he is fit and healthy.