Australian 2023: Proof Andy Murray is ‘4th all-time’ after classic match vs Thanasi Kokkinakis

The world was left once again stunned as Sir Andy Murray produced one of the all-time great comebacks in his nearly six hour thriller against Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Both men did everything in their power to win but a third set blow up from the Aussie opened the door and the Brit stepped through, coming from two sets down for a record 11th time in his career.

He moved past Roger Federer, Boris Becker and Aaron Krickstein, each who had achieved the feat 10 times.

But while Murray is beloved around the world as an absolute champion, he arrived in the wrong era and has a claim as the fourth best player in tennis history.

While the Big Three of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are rightly locked in a debate as the GOATs of the game, Murray is the best of the rest, even if his record doesn’t quite say that.

Although Nadal is on top with 22, followed by Djokovic on 21 and Federer on 20, Murray’s grand slam tally is way back in a five-way tie for 18th thanks to his three titles.

That is largely due to Murray’s eight finals losses, including five at the Australian Open.

He lost in 2010 to Federer, before four times in six years to Djokovic.

In fact, in every grand slam he has gone to the quarterfinals or beyond, minus the grand slam he won, Murray has was knocked out by a member of the Big Three in 19 of 27 grand slams.

Murray grand slam losses in quarterfinals and beyond

— 8: Novak Djokovic: AO F 2011, AO SF 2012, AO F 2013, US QF 2014, AO F 2015, FO SF 2015, AO F 2016, FO F 2016

— 6: Rafael Nadal: W QF 2008, W SF 2010, FO SF 2011, W SF 2011, US SF 2011, FO SF 2014

— 5: Roger Federer: US F 2008, AO F 2010, W F 2012, AO QF 2014, W SF 2015,

— 2: Stan Wawrinka: US QF 2013, FO SF 2017

— 1: Fernando Gonzalez: FO QF 2009, Andy Roddick: W SF 2009, David Ferrer: FO QF 2012, Grigor Dimitrov: W QF 2014, Kei Nishikori: US QF 2016, Sam Querrey: W QF 2017

* Murray won US Open 2012, Wimbledon 2013 and Wimbledon 2016 — has made 30 grand slam quarterfinals all up

Although Ivan Lendl also lost more finals than Murray at 11 (Murray has only lost 8), often his path was blocked by the Big Three.

Three years ago, a Reddit user named u/fiodor wondered how would Murray have fared without the Big Three in his way.

The equation was fairly simple as the grand slam was awarded to the player outside the Big Three who made it the furthest, and if there were multiple players, it was the one who lost to the champion.

The list begins with the 2003 Wimbledon title, Federer’s first grand slam win.

If this was the case, at the time of the list on September 10 2019, there would be 34 different winners and would have seen the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Andy Roddick win five, Marin Cilic four and a host of players who never won a title — Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Dominic Thiem, Robin Soderling and Niklay Davydenko all win multiple titles.

Aussie Mark Philippoussis would also have been a grand slam winner, while Lleyton Hewitt would have added a third.

How would Murray have gone? He would have moved past former record holder Pete Sampras’ 14 grand slam titles with 15.

The list may not be perfectly scientific as different champions would have reshaped rankings and who knows who would have come through the field but it’s an interesting thought experiment.

And if Murray isn’t the fourth best player of all-time, he’s certainly the unluckiest to line up against the Big Three.

After his epic win over Kokkinakis on Thursday, one of the commentators said of the pair who had played until just after 4am in a nearly six hour match that: “They’ll both take away something so much more valuable than rankings points or prizemoney and that’s respect.

“Respect is always earned and never given and they have earned it from every single corner, not only of this stadium, but of the globe as well.”

From 2019 when he was in tears, telegraphing his retirement at the Australian Open ahead of hip resurfacing surgery to Thursday night/Friday morning’s game, he certainly has the world’s respect.

World No. 40 Reilly Opelka tweeted after the match: “Murray is 4th all time”.

Author and former footballer Justin Bryant defended the position, adding: “People, don’t debate this by saying ‘But Pete/Borg/Andre/Mac/Lendl’ etc. It doesn’t matter. Understand what Reilly is *really* saying: Andy Murray is f**king awesome.”

CBC’s Tom Harrington commented: “A stunning comeback in the stunning comeback of Andy Murray. At 35 with an artificial hip, he’s already writing one of the best sports stories of the year.”

The BBC’s Wyre Davies opined: “He may be past his best and probably doesn’t know when he’s beaten but @andy_murray can surely be considered the finest British sportsperson of his generation. A genuine world-beater and a never-say-die attitude beyond compare. #bbcsport “

West London Sport’s Ian McCullough wrote: “Said it more than once and been lambasted for it – but maintain that Andy Murray is the best sportsman to come out of Britain.”

Sports broadcaster Jonathan Overend posted: “The legend grows and grows. Sir Andy Murray”.

Murray’s Australian Open dream isn’t over either, despite the fact he’s playing the third round against the only seeded player left in his quarter of the draw — and despite Novak Djokovic is the likely semi-final opponent the winner of his quarter.

It’s time we give Murray his due respect.

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