*Murray 1-6, 2-4 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Love hold for the Spaniard again. That’s three in this set, and 17 points in a row on serve. The numbers don’t look good for the 35-year-old Scot.
Dimitrov 4-5 Djokovic
The Serb is still a break up in that first set, but Dimitrov is fighting hard. It’s a marathon first set on Rod Laver Arena.
Murray 1-6, 2-3 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
At 30-30 a long rally goes Murray’s way when he carves out a brilliant winner to the corner. At advantage Murray, it’s probably the best point of the match so far, the Scot giving Bautista Agut the runaround and eventually tucking away a volley to win the game, hold serve, and send the crowd wild …
If he can find a way to harness the energy of his massively pro-Murray crowd, his still has a chance.
Murray has 18 unforced errors on his card. Just the six for the Spaniard.
*Murray 1-6, 1-3 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Bautista Agut is serving like a demon. It’s another love hold and Murray is rather punch-drunk at the moment.
Sorry, had the score wrong just then, it’s Murray 1-6, 1-2 *Bautista Agut.
So the Spaniard is a set and a break up.
Murray 1-6, 1-2 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
A beautiful point from Murray, hitting sweetly from the baseline and then coming in to volley, wrestles it back to 15-15. Again the noise from the crowd is deafening. A couple of Scotsmen (or certainly Murray fans) in loud shirts and wigs are pictured applauding enthusiastically.
Murray nets on the next rally for 15-30, then hits some expansive blows from the back of the court and so nearly wins the point, but Bautista Agut matches him with some fine defence, and eventually draws the error for 15-40.
After a long rally the Spaniard hits wide and Murray has a glimpse of saving himself at 30-40 … but he double faults on the next point to give Bautista Agut the break in the second set. Danger!
*Murray 1-6, 1-1 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Bautista Agut has lost just three points on serve. He rounds off another hold in assured style. Back to Murray’s serve …
“Andy Murray is the greatest living Scotsman, period,” emails Simon McMahon. “Today I am officially starting the campaign for ‘Andy Murray Day’ to be celebrated on May 15th each year. Slogan – ‘nothing is impossible’. Though if he wins today, I’ll eat my tartan bunnet.”
Murray 1-6, 1-0 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
The Scot seals an excellent hold with a polished drop shot, and the roar from the crowd is the loudest yet. Murray is hitting the ball OK, but his opponent was relentless in that first set. Can he find a way to put pressure on the Spaniard’s serve?
Murray can barely walk between points. Nothing new there though, in truth.
“Surely he’s got to win this set … he can’t come from two sets to love down again, can he?”
So asks the co-commentator. I would have thought not.
That was extremely one-sided. Bautista Agut seals another straightforward hold, and takes the set in 29 minutes.
There were a few moments for Murray but all in all he was comprehensively outplayed in that set. Is this the end of the road?
Djokovic leads Dimitrov 3-1 in their first set, a break up.
Murray 1-5 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Double break for Bautista Agut. He clips a precise lob over Murray’s head, perfectly to the corner cross-court, to seal it. The Spaniard looks utterly focused as he pumps his first and looks up at his team in the stand.
“Both of these guys grew up playing football as well as tennis and were apparently not too shabby with a fuzz-free ball at their feet,” emails Peter Oh. “Andy Murray was offered a trial with Rangers and Bautista Agut played for Villarreal as a teenager. I’d love to see them put their racquets down for a moment and break out into an impromptu keepy-uppy competition!”
“He’s a wall … a really quick wall,” says the Eurosport commentator of Bautista Agut, after he runs down another Murray stroke, and tucks it away for the winner. You kind of know what he means.
*Murray 1-4 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Bautista Agut holds, and is in pole position in this first set. Will Murray’s body start to co-operate a little more? It’s clear that he wants to take on some big winners and keep the points short, mixed up with plenty of drop shots. Once he’s warmed up, maybe he’ll find a way? We shall see.
An email dropped in a few minutes ago: “It’s Patricia in Detroit, ready to “watch” Andy Murray play his phenomenal brand of tennis through your words! It is 3:18am here and I’m going to stay awake as long as I can.”
Thanks for reading, Patricia.
Three fans with the Scottish flag daubed on their faces are pictured on TV. They look a little concerned at the scoreboard.
Murray 1-3 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
A double fault makes it 0-30. Murray shakes his head and berates himself … or perhaps he’s berating his body.
He clubs another powerful forehand to the corner – his opponent somehow manages to get it back again – then Murray slices a lovely drop shot that Bautista Agut can’t get back.
There is a huge roar to greet Murray’s winning of a point… and then a big serve, and it’s 30-30. Murray stays in the next rally and Bautista Agut nets a backhand and it’s a look at game point for Murray and a chance to get on the board.
Another drop by Murray to his opponent’s forehand side. This time he’s all over it. Murray tries a lob but Bautista Agut smashes for deuce.
Murray soon has advantage but nets a volley, back to deuce. A good serve and another game point for the Scot … Bautista Agut hits long, and Murray is on the board.
*Murray 0-3 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
The Spaniard steams to a love hold, sealing it by clubbing a confident back hand pass down the line.
Mentally and physically, Murray isn’t where he’d like to be at the moment. But he’ll probably get going when he’s a set or two down …
Murray 0-2 *Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Murray double faults to begin. Bautista Agut tucks away a neat volley for 0-30. Murray hits wide for 0-40.
Murray crushes a cross-court forehand that looks good enough to win the point, but Bautista Agut pats it back, keeps in the rally, and soon thumps a brilliant winner down the line for a break to love.
*Murray 0-1 Bautista Agut (*denotes next server)
Bautista Agut takes the first point with a big forehand down the line that Murray miscues. Murray takes on a big forehand winner next up, and nails it for 15-15.
Predictably, Bautista Agut looks happy to keep Murray involved in long rallies, while Murray is perhaps looking for winners earlier than he normally would.
The Spaniard closes out a very solid hold to begin.
It’s pleasant weather for tennis. It’s about 21C and sunny, at just gone 7pm in Melbourne. The breeze is blowing at 15km/h, AKA 9mph.
Alex de Minaur will have his “popcorn ready” to watch Saturday night’s clash between Novak Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov, knowing he will play the winner for a place in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Australia’s biggest local hope wasted no time surging into the second week at Melbourne Park, dispatching Benjamin Bonzi in straight sets to make the fourth round for a second consecutive year.
Bautista Agut wins the toss, and will serve.
The players are warming up.
The players, Murray and Bautista Agut, are coming on to court now.
Murray gets a huge reception from the crowd.
Five hours after engineering one of the most spectacular finishes of his 18-year career, exerting every ounce of energy he had to topple Thanasi Kokkinakis from two sets down in a near-six-hour, five-set marathon that finished at 4.05am, Andy Murray was already back in the corridors of Melbourne Park. At 9.30am, he walked down the tunnel beneath Rod Laver Arena to warm congratulations and high fives from colleagues and admirers, but also to confused stares.
Are you ready to do it all again?
Is Andy Murray ready, that’s the more important question. With two punishing five-setters already in his legs, the Scot now takes on Roberto Bautista Agut, the 24th seed, for a place in the fourth round.
On Rod Laver Arena, meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, who is carrying a hamstring injury, meets Grigor Dimitrov.
Further details of today’s matches to follow … let’s go!