Andy Murray bows out of Australian Open for possibly last time with loss to Roberto Bautista Agut
Andy Murray showed tremendous character to take the match to five sets despite carrying a hip injury. (AP: Andy Brownbill)
Andy Murray’s time at the Australian Open has possibly ended once and for all, with the injury-plagued star showing plenty of guts in a five-set first-round loss to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.
Murray said in a tearful press conference prior to the tournament that this could be his last-ever Australian Open after failing to shake a chronic hip injury, and he did not look in tip-top condition in a battling 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2 loss to the Spanish 22nd seed.
Things looked promising early on as both players traded blows, holding serve to four games apiece in the first set, before Bautista Agut broke the Scot’s serve.
From there, despite flashes of the form that saw Murray win three major titles, Bautista Agut proved too strong, showing no hesitation in making Murray cover lots of ground in thrilling rallies.
Murray showed fantastic resolve to break in the third set, nailing four consecutive points to turn the Spaniard’s serve on himself, before consolidating with a clean service game to lead 3-2 on serve.
Bautista Agut looked to have clawed his way back into that set, only for Murray to unleash two blistering baseline shots to clinch his service game and put the pressure on his opponent.
Murray had the chance to sneak a set point by breaking serve at 5-4, but Bautista Agut hung tough, only for Murray to battle back and clinch the third set in a tie breaker.
Neither player could be separated on serve in the fourth set. Again it went to a tie-break, and again Murray proved clinical in the decider, easing to a 7-3 margin to take the game to a fifth set.
But that looked to be all the gas Murray had in the tank, as Bautista Agut decisively broke the Scot twice in the final set to advance to the next round.
Defending champ Caroline Wozniacki was largely untroubled against Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck. (AP: Aaron Favila)
Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Caroline Wozniacki cruised into the second round with a straight-forward 6-3, 6-4 win over Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck.
The third-seeded Dane broke van Uytvanck once in each set and kept her unforced errors down to win the baseline battle in an hour and 33 minutes in the first match of the evening session at Rod Laver Arena.
The 24-year-old Van Uytvanck, ranked 52, troubled Wozniacki with some well-disguised drop shots but did not have enough to register her maiden win at Melbourne Park in her fifth appearance in both singles and doubles.
Wozniacki, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis, sealed the match with a forehand winner on her third match point and will next meet Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, who progressed after Vera Lapko of Belarus retired while trailing 7-6 (7-5), 3-0.