Andy Murray: the final goodbye from Britain’s tennis star?
Emotional Murray bows out of the Australian Open after losing five-set thriller
Is this the end for Andy Murray? Britain’s former world No.1 produced a memorable performance against Roberto Bautista Agut but it was not enough to secure a place in the Australian Open second round.
In the first-round clash in Melbourne today Murray fought back from two sets down to force a deciding set against the Spaniard. However, despite his heroics on court the 31-year-old was beaten 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 in what could be his final ever match.
Murray revealed last week that because of his chronic hip problems he was planning to retire after Wimbledon this summer. But he also admitted that Australia could be his last tournament due to the pain he is in.
Speaking after his loss today, Murray said that if he is to return to tennis he would need a big operation. Whatever happens though, he would give it his “best shot”.
The three-time grand slam winner said: “It was incredible, thank you so, so much to everyone that came out. I’ve loved playing here over the years, it’s an amazing place to play tennis. If this was my last match, an amazing match to end.
“I gave literally everything I had. It wasn’t enough so congratulations to Roberto and his team. I don’t really have anything else to say but thanks to everyone, my team, my family, and everyone that’s contributed to my tennis career.
“Maybe I’ll see you again. I’ll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I’ll need to have a big operation, which there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to come back from, but I’ll give it my best shot.”
In the first-round clash Murray was watched on by his brother Jamie and mother Judy. His rivals and friends from the world of tennis also recorded a video paying tribute to his career - this is despite Murray not yet confirming his retirement.
As BBC Sport reported it “remains to be seen if his 854th professional match was his last”.
How the press reacted to Murray’s display
Kevin Mitchell, The Guardian: “The Andy Murray story is not quite over. However, even a losing comeback to stand comparison with the best of his gilded career should not disguise the reality that his time left on the main stage is not a deal he can negotiate in good faith indefinitely, and he is honest enough to say so.”
Mike Dickson, Daily Mail: “If this was the end then Andy Murray left the Australian Open with some glorious, heroic reminders of why he was once, fairly briefly, the best player in the world. There was the competitive spirit, the chuntering, the wonderful shots, piercing returns and examples of marvellous defensive play. And at the end there was emotion, the 31-year-old Scot humbled by the support of the host nation.”
Charlie Eccleshare, The Daily Telegraph: “The snaking queues outside Melbourne Arena of tennis fans wanting to see Murray was a sight to behold and he was greeted by a deafening roar as he emerged onto the court.”