Andy Murray suggests he may not retire but will need ‘big operation’ after Australian Open defeat

Andy Murray has suggested that his epic five-set defeat in the first round of the Australian Open by Roberto Bautista Agut may not be his last career appearance, but admitted that it will take “a big operation” to get him back on the court beyond 2019.

Murray suffered not just on the scoreboard as he attempted to overcome the debilitating hip injury that looks set to end his career, but when he looked to be on his way out of the first Grand Slam of the year at the earliest opportunity, the 31-year-old dug deeper than he ever has done before.

A break down in the third and staring a straight-set defeat in the face, Murray broke back before clinching a tiebreak to reduce the gap to 2-1 in sets, and as the match ticked into its fourth hour, Murray repeated the trick to take the fourth set and level the match.

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But the longer it went on, the more the injury took out of him, and Bautista Agut took the fifth and final set by a comfortable 6-2 margin to effectively bring the curtain down on Andy Murray’s career as we know it.

The likelihood is that Murray will do all he can to make one final appearance at Wimbledon later this year, but after soaking up the adulation of the crowd inside the Hisense Arena, Murray suggested that he could yet undergo a serious operation to resurface his hip before mounting a comeback if at all possible.


Andy Murray vs Roberto Bautista Agut – in pictures





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“Amazing. Actually I think I’m going to be alright,” joked Murray, before getting serious. “That was incredible. Thank you so, so much to everyone that came out tonight. I’ve honestly loved playing here over the years. It’s an amazing place to play tennis, if this was my last match it’s a good way to end, I gave literally everything I had but it wasn’t enough tonight so congratulations to Roberto and his team.

“I don’t really have anything else to say. Thanks again, thanks to everyone for all the support, my team, my family who are here supporting me and everyone who’s contributed to my career over the years.

“I don’t know, maybe I’ll see you again, 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 come back from anyway, but I’ll give it my best shot. Thank you.”

His short speech was followed by a montage of tributes recorded with his biggest rivals and friends, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and Murray admitted that while he could hang up the racket with three Grand Slams, two Wimbledon title and two Olympic titles to his name, it was the respect of his opponents that meant the most to him.

“I’ve been very fortunate in many ways and lucky to compete against some of the guys who’ve been around. Roger, Rafa, Novak have been incredibly difficult opponents but I have a lot respect for them. We’ve had some incredible matches, some great battles and I think tennis fans all around the world will remember when we all finish.

“To have the respect of your peers is the most important thing, it was very nice that they took the time to do that for me.”

Having played the role of the villain throughout, Bautista Agut was rightly given a standing ovation after the match, and he was quick to pay tribute to Murray after playing his own part in their nail-biting encounter, having been forced to dig deep to reach the second round.

“Andy deserves the applause, Andy Murray deserves the fans. He was brilliant,” said 22nd seed Bautista Agut, who will now face Australian John Millman in front of what is sure to be another partisan crowd.

“Everyone here loves tennis and is very polite, and it’s nice to play with this crowd. I want to rest well, enjoy the win over Andy and come back on Wednesday.”

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