Andy Murray put on a performance to remember at the Australian Open on Monday, battling back from two sets down against Roberto Bautista Agut before finally falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2 in what could be his final match at the Grand Slam.
Murray previously announced his plans to retire after Wimbledon – if not sooner – in an emotional press conference before the Australian Open began.
Hobbled Murray Nearly Completes Magical Comeback
Throughout the match, Murray showed the struggles with movement that have plagued him for much of the past two years, often limping between points. But down a break in the third set, the Scotsman threw himself into the match, coming back to win a tiebreak in the third and then again in the fourth set to get to the brink of pulling off a miracle comeback.
But it was not to be. Bautista Agut took a 5-1 lead in the final set, and when Murray stepped up to the line to serve for the final time in the match – a game he would win – the crowd exploded in applause, and Murray responded by raising his racket.
“I was emotional,” Murray told reporters after the match. “I don’t think I’ve had that before in any matches. I don’t know if when I came to serve at Wimbledon for [the championship], I don’t know if that happened. It was brilliant. The atmosphere the whole match was amazing. I loved it.”
Decision on Surgery Coming Soon
In the post-match press conference, Murray said that he would come to a decision about his future during the next week or so. Essentially, his choices boil down to taking time off and preparing himself to play at Wimbledon this year, or considering having surgery – which could potentially allow him to continue playing beyond this season.
“Although tonight was not comfortable in terms of my hip, I could play another match,” Murray told reporters. “But if I want to try to play again, I want to improve my quality of life, because even if I take four months, I still can’t walk. I’m still in pain doing just basic day-to-day things.”
Murray noted that having an operation to resurface his hip wouldn’t be unprecedented, but would come with the risk of ruining his plans to play at Wimbledon one last time.
“Having an operation like that, there’s absolutely no guarantees I’d be able to play again. I’m fully aware of that,” he said. “That’s kind of the decision I have to make, that possibility of not having one more match by having the operation.”
But if things go well for Murray, the possibility still exists that he could not only play at Wimbledon, but that his career could continue beyond this season.
“Maybe I’ll see you again,” he told the Australian Open crowd. “I’ll do everything possible to try.”
Murray at the Australian Open
While Murray has three career Grand Slam titles, he’s never managed to win an Australian Open. However, there was a long period during which he came close nearly every year. From 2010 through 2016, Murray made the finals five times and was never eliminated before the quarterfinals. He lost all five finals – the first to Roger Federer, and the next four to Novak Djokovic – only winning two sets in total in those matches. Overall, Murray has a 48-13 career record at the Australian Open.