VALENCIA, Spain (AP) — Andy Murray saved five match points before fighting back to beat Tommy Robredo 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (8) in a grueling Valencia Open final on Sunday.
Last month, Murray also saved five match points against the Spaniard on his way to winning the final in Shenzhen, China. This time, he had to do it in front of Robredo’s home fans, who ended up applauding the effort made by both players on Valencia’s indoor hard court.
Robredo came from a break down in the second set to force a tiebreaker that could have earned him his first win against Murray since 2007. Murray looked flustered, slamming his racket down twice, but he managed to save two match points before leveling at a set each.
The Briton then saved three more match points in the final tiebreaker before hitting a decisive backhand to win in 3 hours, 20 minutes, making it the longest final on the ATP circuit this year. Murray embraced Robredo over the net at the finish.
“I know it was an incredible match,” Murray said. “The tennis at the end and in the second set was high level. I played well at the right moments.”
It was Murray’s 31st career title and second in Valencia after winning in 2009.
The two-time grand slam winner will rise to No. 5 in the rankings with his third title of the year, after he also beat David Ferrer last weekend to win in Vienna.
Sunday’s match saw both players continue to draw out rally after rally despite both visibly tiring and showing signs of cramps in their legs as the grueling final wore on.
“It was an amazing match, and you have to enjoy it,” Robredo said. “Unfortunately someone has to win and it was decided by a few balls. It is what it is.”
The 32-year-old Robredo started well, saving six break points in the first set while converting the only two chances he had to break Murray’s serve.
Robredo first broke for a 4-3 lead after winning a long game that at one point left Murray leaning on the barrier to catch his breath while the Spaniard made use of an empty chair to sit down. The local favorite pressed Murray in his next service game as well and set up a set point with a forehand winner, then converted it when the Briton sent a shot long.
Murray responded by breaking Robredo’s first service game of the second set, but the Spaniard leveled at 4-4.
In the tiebreaker, Murray saved the first match point by sprinting to return two deep ground strokes before Robredo’s forehand clipped the net and fell long. Murray then hit an ace to save the second before forcing a third set.
The rivals traded breaks as both tightened up with cramps.
Robredo then saved Murray’s first match point at 5-4 before holding serve when his opponent sent the ball wide.
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