Andy Murray ‘the fighter’ can reach second week at Australian Open or Wimbledon in 2022, says Mats Wilander
Andy Murray’s first match at the Australian Open since 2019 lasted almost four hours, and the Brit battled through to beat No 21 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4. Eurosport expert Mats Wilander says recovery is now key for Murray, but talked up the former world No 1’s chances of reaching the second week of a Grand Slam this year.
Murray comeback ‘a huge success’ regardless of what rankings say – Wilander
Three years ago, it was feared Andy Murray’s first-round defeat at the Australian Open was to be his last match at a Grand Slam – but now talk has switched to whether the 34-year-old can reach the second week in Melbourne.
Murray, a five-time finalist at the Australian Open, was back in action Down Under after missing the previous two editions due to an injury and then Covid.
The Briton was embroiled in another trademark battle on Tuesday, and prevailed against Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 in a near four-hour marathon.
Up next for Murray in the second round is qualifier Taro Daniel, and Eurosport expert Mats Wilander believes one the game’s best “problem-solvers” is capable of capping his surgery comeback with a run to the second week of a Grand Slam – potentially this month in Melbourne.
“Certainly the Australian Open and Wimbledon are the two Grand Slams where he has had his best success in my eyes, it’s where he will still have a chance to get to the second week,” said Wilander, a three-time Australian Open champion.
“And why not in Melbourne? These hard courts are playing very quick. Murray is best on the fast surfaces, always has been, so yes there’s a good chance he can make the second week of a Grand Slam over the next 12 months.
Highlights: Murray produces ‘extraordinary effort’ to win five-set epic against Basilashvili
“He is one of the best problem-solvers I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. It doesn’t matter who he is playing, he’ll play them the right way.
“When Murray is at his best, it’s more about the process and tactically playing correct. He’s good at not getting ahead of himself, and he can mess with your head.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your ranking is, and especially these younger players who don’t have the experience, for them to play Murray is an absolute emotional nightmare.”
'I couldn’t ask for any more' - Murray on Basilashvili win after 'tough three or four years'
After beating No 21 seed Basilashvili, Murray will look to see off Daniel before a potential third-round meeting with No 11 seed Jannik Sinner.
Murray and Sinner met at the Stockholm Open in November, with the former winning in straight sets.
The big test for Murray first, though, will be about how he recovers from his first-round epic, another test for a body which has been put through multiple surgeries.
"Andy Murray’s comeback is a big success to me. The fact he is back physically, being able to play for over four hours is incredible,” Wilander added.
“The fact he has had surgeries and he went down and he played in the lowest level of professional tennis to gain some match experience and some confidence – to then come back and play in front of thousands of people with the pressure that that brings and seem to enjoy it this way. The comeback is a huge success, it doesn’t matter where he ends up in the rankings.
"Andy’s next opponent, Taro Daniel, is a good tennis player, he is solid, but it is going to be up to Andy Murray’s physical recovery I believe because who knows how he is going to recover.
“I am sure he is going to do everything he can. Emotionally, I am sure he will be charged up for this match, but suddenly the tables are turned and he is the favourite and he has to pressure him because he has the chance to get to the third round of a Grand Slam – this is a massive match for Andy Murray.”
Asked about why Murray has the fans on his side, Wilander said: “They love Andy Murray, nearly as much as they love Kyrgios. He’s a player for the people.
“How do you become that? When you show emotion during the process of what you do. When you can win gracefully or in defeat be respectful, that’s what people love. Murray gives everything and the Aussies love a great fighter.”
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