Andy Murray vows to do ‘everything possible’ to make Australian Open return
Murray was beaten 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-2 and must now decide whether to prolong his career or not.
Andy Murray has said he will do “everything possible” to play again despite exiting the Australian Open in the first round after a remarkable four-hour battle with Roberto Bautista Agut.
Murray, who tearfully announced on Friday that he is planning to retire from the game this year, and maybe as soon as after this tournament, threatened a miracle in Melbourne but was ultimately beaten 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (4) 6-2 by the Spanish 22nd seed.
Murray’s hopes were not high given the state of his right hip but this was a remarkable performance for a man who admits he struggles to put his shoes and socks on.
Despite an emotional farewell to the crowd – which included mum Judy and brother Jamie in tears – he refused to rule out playing again in the future.
“Maybe I’ll see you again,” he said. “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 guarantee I’ll be able to come back from, but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Paying tribute to an Australian crowd that got behind the five-time finalist right from the off, he added: “It was incredible, thank you so, so much to everyone that came out tonight. I’ve loved playing here over the years, it’s an amazing place to play tennis.
“If this was my last match, it was an amazing match to end. I gave literally everything I had. It wasn’t enough tonight so congratulations to Roberto and his team.
“I don’t really have anything else to say but thanks to everyone, my team, my family, and everyone that’s contributed to my tennis career.”
After the alarm bells were set off during Thursday’s practice match against Novak Djokovic, there were concerns that Murray would quickly subside against the 22nd seed, but he made a positive start.
As the first two sets went on, his limp became ever more pronounced but there was the trademark chuntering from the back of the court that served as a reminder that he still very much wanted to win the match.
It looked as though it could all be over quickly after going behind 6-4 6-4 and losing a break early in the third set, but he responded with an immediate break of the Bautista Agut serve and from there he went on to drag himself back into the match in typical fashion.
Murray, still limping heavily, somehow fought through the pain to win the third and fourth sets on the tie-break to the delight of the crowd with his fighter’s instinct coming to the fore.
However just when he and the crowd were starting to dream of the impossible, he lost his momentum early in the fifth set as Bautista Agut reeled off five successive games.
Murray fought off tears at the start of his last service game before eventually bowing out to a standing ovation.
After the emotional on-court interview with former coach Mark Petchey, the three-time grand slam champion was then shown a video montage of tributes from his fellow players, including Roger Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
“I’ve been very fortunate and unlucky to compete in an era with the guys who’ve been around,” said Murray.
“Roger, Rafa Novak, have been incredibly difficult opponents but we’ve had some incredible moments, great battles that I think will live long in the memories of the fans.
“To have the respect of your peers is obviously the most important thing and it’s very nice they took the time to do that, I really appreciate it.”