Melbourne - Gutsy
Andy Murray fought to the end before losing an epic Australian Open
farewell match 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 at the hands of Roberto
Bautista Agut on Monday.
The Scot, who said he will retire this season because of chronic hip
pain, seemed finished at two sets and a break down to the 22nd seeded
Spaniard in the first round but somehow battled back to force a fifth
"Amazing. That was incredible, thank you so, so much to everyone that
came out tonight," the three-time Grand Slam champion said after being
swept along on a wave of vociferous support.
"Honestly I've loved playing here over the years. If this was my last
match, an amazing way to end. I gave everything I had and it wasn't
Murray announced at an emotional press conference on Friday that he
would retire at Wimbledon this year, but conceded the Australian Open
could be his last tournament, so great have been his injury problems.
But he seemed to have a change of heart after a match in which he showed his fighting spirit had not been diminished.
"Maybe I'll see you again," he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
"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 guarantees I'll come back from.
But I'll give it my best shot."
Murray had entered a raucous Melbourne Arena to a huge ovation as
Scottish Saltires and British Union flags were flown while one banner
proclaimed: "There will only ever be one Andy Murray".
The rollicking support lifted him and despite frequently grimacing
with pain he moved relatively freely as the Spaniard took the opening
set in 50 minutes.
The in-form Bautista Agut had beaten world number one Novak Djokovic
on his way to winning the Qatar Open at the start of the month and
quickly took the second.
Bautista Agut broke for 2-1 in the
third and just as the end looked like it would come quickly, Murray had
the crowd, including mum Judy and brother Jamie, back on their feet
after a winner down the line to break back.
"Right, let's go," Murray shouted and held to love with an searing
ace to nudge ahead 3-2 before forcing a tiebreak which he took 7-5 with a
scream of "come on" and a huge fist pump.
Suddenly the comeback was on.
The fourth set went with serve and Murray again proved the tie-break
master on the fourth of his five set points - but not before being
interrupted as he served to stay in the match at 5-6 by fireworks going
off at the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Once Bautista Agut broke in the fifth, Murray's resolve finally
crumbled and the Spaniard took it 6-2. He will face unseeded Australian
John Millman in the second round.
"That was an incredible night," said Bautista Agut.
"Andy deserves this atmosphere. He gave everything to the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis."
Murray was then shown a big screen tribute from a whole phalanx of
top players, including Roger Federer, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Caroline
Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens.
"I've been very fortunate - and unlucky - to compete in an era with all those great players around" Murray said.
"To have the respect of your peers is a very special thing."
Results from Day 1 of the Australian Open on Monday:
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) bt Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Radu Albot (MDA) bt Michael Mmoh (USA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
Fernando Verdasco (ESP x26) bt Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-3
John Millman (AUS) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-4
Karen Khachanov (RUS x10) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x14) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) bt Roberto Carballes (ESP) 6-1, 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) bt Guido Andreozzi (ARG) 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x19) bt Christopher Eubanks (USA) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3
Gael Monfils (FRA x30) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-0, 6-4, 6-0
Taylor Fritz (USA) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2
Daniel Evans (GBR) bt Tatsuma Ito (JPN) 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (10/8)
Kevin Anderson (RSA x5) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-3
Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-1, 7-6 (7/0), 6-3
Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Steve Johnson (USA x31) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x20) bt Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4
Pablo Cuevas (URU) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4, 7-5, 6-1
Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) bt Jason Kubler (AUS) 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 2-6, 6-3
Reilly Opelka (USA) bt John Isner (USA x9) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5)
Tomas Berdych (CZE) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x13) 6-3, 6-0, 7-5
Robin Haase (NED) bt Guillermo Garc1a-Lopez (ESP) 7-5, 6-4, 7-5
Denis Kudla (USA) bt Marc Polmans (AUS) 5-7, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x18) bt Rudolf Molleker (GER) 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Alex De Minaur (AUS x27) bt Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
Henri Laaksonen (SUI) bt Mirza Basic (BIH) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3
Matthew Ebden (AUS) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
Roberto Bautista (ESP x22) bt Andy Murray (SCO) 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2
Roger Federer (SUI x3) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x6) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)
Irina Begu (ROM) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-7 (3/7), 4-3 retired
Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE x32) 6-4, 7-6 (7/1)
Lesya Tsurenko (UKR x24) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt Monica Niculescu (ROM) 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Katie Boulter (GBR) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (10/6)
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x11) bt Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-1, 6-4
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x15) bt Luksika Kumkhum (THA) 6-2, 6-2
Wang Yafan (CHN) bt Ellen Perez (AUS) 6-4, 6-0
Astra Sharma (AUS) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 7-5, 4-6, 6-1
Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x22) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (RUS x30) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-0, 6-0
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-4, 6-1
Johanna Larsson (SWE) bt Vera Lapko (BLR) 7-6 (7/5), 3-0 retired
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x3) bt Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-3, 6-4
Sloane Stephens (USA x5) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-4, 6-2
Timea Babos (HUN) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3)
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) bt Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-3, 6-2
Petra Martic (CRO x31) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-1, 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (EST x20) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-3, 6-2
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-1, 6-1
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 6-4, 6-3
Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Alison Riske (USA) 6-3, 6-3
Danielle Collins (USA) bt Julia Georges (GER x14) 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4
Sachia Vickery (USA) bt Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Zoe Hives (AUS) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Caroline Garcia (FRA x19) bt Jessika Ponchet (FRA) 6-2, 6-3
Donna Vekic (CRO x29) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-2, 6-4
Kimberly Birrell (AUS) bt Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-4, 6-2
Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x2) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 6-2, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (CZE x8) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-3, 6-2