Australian Open 2014: Andy Murray wins 23 consecutive points to clinch victory over Vincent Millot and move into third round

Murray won 6-2 6-2 7-5 after coming from 5-1 down in the third set
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You have to win 24 points in a row to achieve tennis perfection – a “golden set” is won 6-0 without dropping a point – and Andy Murray went close to doing his version of the achievement at the Australian Open on Thursday. The 26-year-old Scot won the last 23 points of his second-round match against France’s Vincent Millot, though he did so only after digging himself out of trouble in a remarkable third set.

Millot, who is the French No 25, had gone two sets down when he decided to throw caution to the wind. The 27-year-old world No 267 forced a set point after racing into a 5-1 lead, only for Murray to play superbly on the next 23 points and win the match. Having saved the set point with a backhand winner, Murray went on to win six games in a row and clinch the match 6-2, 6-2, 7-5 to earn a third-round meeting with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez on Saturday.

“I was trying to remind myself when I was 5-1 down that if I could just hang in there and weather the storm a little bit, I might be able to come back,” Murray said afterwards. “At 6-5 when I went to serve for it someone shouted out: ‘You’ve won 19 points in a row.’ I would say that’s probably the most I’d ever won in my career by far. It’s a very difficult thing to do. I don’t really know how I did it.”

The American Bill Scanlon is the only man who has won a “golden set” in the Open era, when he beat Brazil’s Marcos Hocevar at Delray Beach in 1983. Yaroslava Shvedova became the first woman to perform the feat in the Open era when she beat Sara Errani at Wimbledon two summers ago.

A patchy performance by Murray was partly explained by the conditions. After temperatures in excess of 43C during the day, the roof over Rod Laver Arena was shut in the afternoon. In the early evening there was a thunder storm and by the time Murray and Millot went on court just before 10pm – with the roof open again – the humidity had soared. The temperature had fallen, but the air temperature was still a steamy 28C.

“It was so humid,” Murray said. “It changed the way the court and the balls played a lot. It was heavier. There were a lot of balls in the net today. It slowed everything down a bit.”


Millot came out fighting in the third set


Murray has beaten Lopez in all seven of their previous meetings, though the 32-year-old Spaniard ran him close over four sets at the US Open two summers ago. “He’s got a great serve,” Murray said. “He obviously comes to the net a bit. He has a different game style to pretty much all of the guys nowadays.”

Millot also has a different hair style nowadays, having shorn off his flowing locks. “I was in the ice bath with him after our first-round match and talking to him about it,” Murray said. “He got the all-clear from his girlfriend before he did it – no bets or New Year resolutions. For me his hair was something that made him Feliciano. He’s a bit different now.”  Lopez, who admitted he would have to “do something different and go for it” in order to reverse his fortunes against Murray, said he might let his hair grow again but had not decided. “We’ll see,” he said. “If I keep winning I will leave it like this.”

Play on a weather-hit day went past midnight and the biggest shock came at the end. Juan Martin del Potro, the world No 5, became the first major casualty in the men’s draw when he lost 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 to Spain’s Roberto world No 62 Bautista Agut.

During the hottest part of the day Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer took advantage of more comfortable conditions as the retractable roofs over the two main stadiums were shut. Nadal beat the Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in Rod Laver Arena, while Federer beat Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic 6-2,  6-1, 7-6 in Hisense Arena. It was the first time in 10 years that Federer has played a match here on any court other than Rod Laver Arena.