Andy Murray’s preparations for the Australian Open hit a hiccup as he fell to a three-set defeat to world No. 76 Facundo Bagnis at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament.
Murray had claimed the scalp of old foe Rafael Nadal at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December, hinting at a return to form, but could not secure another confidence-boosting win ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2022.
The 34-year-old was way short of his best as Bagnis came through 6-3 5-7 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
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He created plenty of opportunities on his opponent’s serve but converted just two of 13 break points, blowing three in the final game that would have got the deciding set back on serve.
Murray will make his first appearance at the Australian Open in three years, having missed the last two editions due to injury and Covid.
He is a five-time runner-up in Melbourne – four times to Novak Djokovic (2016, 2015, 2013, 2011) and once to Roger Federer (2010) – and has been handed a wildcard in 2022.
Murray told Eurosport in Abu Dhabi that he was still dreaming of a "fairytale" as he outlined his hopes for 2022.
“The biggest goal is to have a deep run in a Grand Slam and be in the quarter-finals, semi-finals of a Slam, have that sort of fairytale scenario where it's like, ‘Could he do it again? Is it possible?’” he said.
The Australian Open begins on January 17.
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