Proof Andy Murray is ‘4th all-time’ after Australian Open classic
Both men did everything in their power to win, but a blowing third set from the Australian opened the door and the Briton stepped in, coming back from two sets down for a record 11th time in his career.
He passed Roger Federer, Boris Becker and Aaron Krickstein, each having achieved the feat 10 times.
But while Murray is loved around the world as an absolute champion, he arrived at the wrong time and claims to be the fourth best player in tennis history.
While the Big Three of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are rightly locked in debate as the game’s GOATs, Murray is the best of the rest, even if his record doesn’t quite say it.
Although Nadal leads with 22, followed by Djokovic on 21 and Federer on 20, Murray’s Grand Slam tally is a long way off in a five-for-18 tie thanks to his three titles.
This is largely due to Murray’s eight defeats in the final, including five at the Australian Open.
He lost in 2010 against Federer, before four times in six years against Djokovic.
In fact, in every Grand Slam he has reached the quarter-finals or beyond, minus the Grand Slam he has won, Murray has been knocked out by a member of the Big Three in 19 of 27 Grand Slams.
Murray’s Grand Slam defeats in the quarter-finals 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: F QF 2008, F SF 2010, FO SF 2011, F SF 2011, US SF 2011, FO SF 2014
— 5: Roger Federer: US F 2008, AO F 2010, WF 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 – made 30 Grand Slam quarter-finals in all
Although Ivan Lendl has also lost more finals than Murray at 11 (Murray only lost 8), his path has often been blocked by the Big Three.
Three years ago, a Reddit user named u/fiodor wondered how Murray could have made it without the Big Three in his way.
The equation was quite simple as the grand slam was awarded to the player outside of the big three who made it the farthest, and if there were multiple players, it was the one who lost to the champion.
The list begins with the Wimbledon title in 2003, Federer’s first Grand Slam victory.
If so, at the time of the September 10, 2019 list, there would be 34 different winners and would have seen Stan Wawrinka and Andy Roddick win five, Marin Cilic four and a host of players who have 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 left? He would have surpassed former record holder Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam titles with 15.
The list might not be perfectly scientific as different champions would have reshaped the rankings and who knows who would have passed through the field, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.
And while Murray isn’t the fourth best player of all time, he’s certainly the unluckiest to line up against the Big Three.
After their epic win over Kokkinakis on Thursday, one of the commentators said of the pair who played until 4 a.m. in a nearly six-hour match that: “They’ll both take away something good more valuable than ranking points or prizes and that is respect.
“Respect is always earned and never given and they’ve earned it around every corner, not just from this stadium but from around the world.”
Since 2019, when he was in tears telegraphing his retirement at the Australian Open ahead of hip resurfacing surgery in the Thursday night/Friday morning game, he’s certainly got the respect of the world.
World number 40 Reilly Opelka tweeted after the game: “Murray is 4th all time”.
Author and former footballer Justin Bryant defended his position, adding: “People, don’t argue this by saying ‘But Pete/Borg/Andre/Mac/Lendl’ etc. It doesn’t matter. Understand this what Reilly says really: Andy Murray is really great.
CBC’s Tom Harrington commented: “A stunning return to Andy Murray’s stunning comeback. At 35 with an artificial hip, he is already writing one of the best sports stories of the year.
BBC’s Wyre Davies said: “He may be past his best and probably doesn’t know when he’s been beaten, but @andy_murray can certainly be considered Britain’s finest sportsman of his generation. A true world beater and a never say die without comparison attitude. #bbcsport”
West London Sport’s Ian McCullough wrote: “He’s said it more than once and been lambasted for it – but maintains Andy Murray is the finest sportsman to come out of Britain.”
Sports broadcaster Jonathan Overend said: “The legend grows and grows. Mr. Andy Murray”.
Murray’s Australian Open dream isn’t over either, despite playing the third round against the only seeded player remaining in his quarter of the tie – and despite Novak Djokovic being the probable opponent of the semi-final, the winner of his quarter.
It’s time we gave Murray all the respect he deserves.