Andy Murray set his sights on a deep Australian Open run after an emotional first-round win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Playing in Melbourne for the first time since 2019, Murray battled through in five sets against the 21st seed, who he also beat in Sydney last week.
It was Murray’s first Australian Open win for 1,822 days and came on the same court where the former world No 1 came close to retirement in 2019 after losing to Roberto Bautista Agut.
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“It’s been a tough three or four years,” said Murray after beating Basilashvili.
“I’ve put in a lot of work to get back here. I played on this court many times and the atmosphere is incredible and I’ve always had fantastic support.
“This is the one where I thought I’d potentially played my last match three years ago but it’s amazing to be back and winning a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t ask for any more.”
Three years ago it looked as though Murray was set to retire from tennis due to a hip problem.
Following the loss to Bautista Agut there was even a montage played on court featuring some of Murray’s peers paying tribute to the three-time Grand Slam champion.
However, Murray has battled back and is now determined for success in Melbourne, where he has reached five finals.
“There are things in my game I can definitely do better. I would love to have a deep run here if possible. I have not had that at one of the Slams since I came back from injury and it’s something that’s motivating me.
“I have played some of my best tennis here over the years, I feel comfortable here and I hope I can do it this tournament.”
Reflecting on the win over Basilashvili, Murray added: “It was a brutal match in Sydney, we played for three hours, he hits the ball huge from the back of the court and I had to do a lot of running and a lot of defending today.
“He’s not the sort of guy you want to see next to your name in the draw too often. A little bit of confidence from the win last week and thankfully managed to get over the line today.”
Murray will next face Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel on Thursday.
Highlights: Murray produces ‘extraordinary effort’ to win five-set epic against Basilashvili
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