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Andy Murray out in first round of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself – and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother – quite a gutsy goodbye, the type of never-give-in performance he’s famous for.

What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career.

Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray’s first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years.

“If today was my last match, look, it was a brilliant way to finish,” Murray said. “I literally gave everything that I had on the court, fought as best as I could, and performed a lot better than what I should have done with the amount I’ve been able to practice and train.”

Murray, just 31, is a year removed from his operation, and he said that he will decide in the next week or so whether to have a second one. If opts to avoid another procedure, he might be able to play in July at Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. If he decides for further surgery, then Monday’s match might have been his last.

Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on his knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark.

And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played.

They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators.

They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set.

They rose when the compelling contest ended.

“Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him,” Bautista Agut said. “He’s a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis.”

Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens.

“Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy,” Federer said. “I’m your biggest fan.”

Federer opened his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open championship, and record seventh overall, with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Denis Istomin at Rod Laver Arena. Nadal, whose 17 career majors are second among men only to Federer’s 20, overpowered Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 earlier.

Nadal, who had surgery on his right ankle in November, hadn’t competed since stopping during his U.S. Open semifinal in September because of a bad knee.

“It’s very difficult to start (again) after an injury,” Nadal said. “I know it very well.”

Other major title winners who advanced on Day 1, when the temperature approached 90 degrees (33 Celsius), included defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova – who beat Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0 – Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova.

The highest-seeded player to exit was No. 9 John Isner, who hit 47 aces but lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) against 97th-ranked Reilly Opelka in an all-American match.

The most attention, though, was drawn by Murray, who is as popular for his success on the court as his attitude away from it.

The stands were dotted with British and Scottish flags and with signs of support. When Bautista Agut entered, he was greeted by a smattering of polite applause. When Murray was introduced, there were full-throated screams, followed by chants of his first name.

As play began, Murray delighted his well-wishers every so often with terrific shots on a full sprint and his trademark, quick-reflex returns. When he flubbed a shot or otherwise let a point slide by, Murray displayed the muttering and leg-slapping self-contempt the world has come to know and expect – and, let’s face it, love – from the guy.

For all that Murray accomplished over the years, including reaching No. 1 in the rankings and a pair of Olympic singles gold medals, he never was able to leave Melbourne with the trophy, finishing as the runner-up five times.

When Murray eventually succumbed to his weariness – not to mention Bautista Agut – the arena speakers blared Queen’s “We are the Champions,” with its fitting line: “And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.”

If this was, indeed, the end, Murray did just that.

“I’d be OK,” he said, “with that being my last match.”

Tearful Murray: Australian Open could be last tournament

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MELBOURNE, Australia — A tearful Andy Murray says the Australian Open could be his last tournament because of a hip injury that has hampered him for almost two years.

The three-time Grand Slam champion says he plans to start his opening match against No. 22-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open, where he has reached the final five times but never won the title.

“I’m going to play (in Australia) – I can still play to the level,” Murray said. “Not a level I’m happy playing at – but also, it’s not just that. The pain is too much really.”

Murray had right hip surgery in January 2018 and, after two brief attempts to return to the tour, played only 12 matches in the year.

He returned at the Brisbane International last week, where he won his opening match but lost in the second round to Daniil Medvedev, showing visible signs of limping between points.

The 31-year-old Murray, who ended long Grand Slam droughts for British men and also won the Olympic gold medal, had hoped to play the first half of 2019 and make a run at Wimbledon.

“That’s where I’d like to stop playing … but I’m also not certain I’m able to do that,” Murray said. “I don’t want to continue playing that way. I’ve tried everything I could to get it right and that hasn’t worked.”

Murray held a news conference Friday at Melbourne Park, and had to leave the room for a while soon after it started to compose himself as he fronted the media.

He said he’s considering another hip operation, more to improve his quality of life than as a way to return to the top level in tennis.

The Australian Open starts Monday.

Andy Murray out of U.S. Open with hip injury

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NEW YORK — His voice choking, Andy Murray unexpectedly announced Saturday that he was withdrawing from the U.S. Open because of a hip injury, adding to the lengthy list of top players who will miss the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.

Murray was seeded No. 2 at Flushing Meadows, where play begins Monday.

“Did pretty much everything that I could to get myself ready here and took a number of weeks off after Wimbledon. I obviously spoke to a lot of hip specialists. Tried obviously resting, rehabbing, to try and get myself ready here,” said Murray, who won the 2012 U.S. Open for the first of his three major championships.

“Was actually practicing OK the last few days,” he added, “but it’s too sore for me to win the tournament. And ultimately, that’s what I was here to try and do.”

Murray, who yielded the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal this week, has not played a match since July 12 at Wimbledon, where he was the defending champion and clearly was hampered by his hip during a five-set quarterfinal loss to Sam Querrey.

The 30-year-old from Britain revealed during a news conference at the U.S. Open site Saturday that the hip first bothered him during his semifinal loss to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open in June.

Murray said he will decide in the “next couple of days” whether to end his season because of the injury.

He has dealt with hip problems off and on for years, but not to the point where it forced him off the tour for an extended absence.

“I certainly wouldn’t have been hurting myself more by trying to play. It was more a question of whether it would settle down in time,” Murray said. “Obviously I kind of ran out of time.”

Murray’s exit from the U.S. Open further depletes an event that already was missing three of last year’s four men’s semifinalists, including 2016 champion Wawrinka, runner-up Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.

Three-time major champion Wawrinka recently had surgery on his left knee, 12-time major champion Djokovic has a bad right elbow and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Nishikori has an injured right wrist. All three have said they are done for the year.

Add in 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic, who has a problem with his left wrist, and Murray, and now five of the top 11 men in this week’s ATP rankings will be absent.

That leaves No. 1 seed Nadal and No. 3 Roger Federer – who has been dealing with a bad back himself – as the two clear favorites for the men’s trophy. They were drawn Friday into the same half of the bracket, meaning they could only meet in the semifinals in New York.

“Obviously there has been a lot of players with injuries this year,” Murray said. “Look, I want to be back on court as soon as I can. If it means that I can play before the end of the year, then that’s what I would love to do. I miss competing, and I’ll try to get myself back on court as soon as I can.”

If Murray had pulled out of the field anytime before the draw was conducted Thursday, then Federer would have moved up to the No. 2 seeding and automatically would be in the bottom half of the bracket, setting up the possibility of a final between him and Nadal.

Instead, Federer stays where he is at No. 3.

No. 5 Marin Cilic, the 2014 champion, shifts to Murray’s slot in the bracket and takes on the man who was supposed to face Murray in the first round, Tennys Sandgren of the United States. Under Grand Slam rules, the man seeded 17th – in this case Querrey – moves to Cilic’s vacated spot and will play Gilles Simon of France. Querrey’s old line in the draw gets filled by the highest-ranked man who was not seeded originally, Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany; he becomes seed No. 33 and plays qualifier Tim Smyczek of the U.S.

Lukas Lacko of Slovakia, who lost in qualifying, gets into the 128-man field as a “lucky loser,” replacing Murray. Lacko will play Benoit Paire of France.