Australian Open: Andy Murray beats Nikoloz Basilashvili in Melbourne

Three years ago at Melbourne Park, Murray caught everyone by surprise by tearfully announcing he feared his career was coming to an end.

Andy Murray in a file photo, Image credit: Twitter/LTA

Britain’s Andy Murray marked his return to the Australian Open – where in 2019 he thought he might have to retire – with a tense five-set win over 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Murray cruised to the first set in 23 minutes but any hopes of a routine win disappeared as Basilashvili recovered. Momentum swung both ways before the wildcard won 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4.

Murray, 34, was one of three Britons to win on Tuesday, with Heather Watson and Dan Evans also progressing. Murray, a five-time beaten finalist in Melbourne, will play Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round on Thursday.

“It’s amazing,” Murray said shortly after winning on John Cain Arena, where he lost to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in 2019.”

“It’s been a tough three or four years but I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here.”

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“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is always incredible.”

“It is where I thought I had potentially played my last match but to win a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t have asked any more.”

Same court, same excitement for Andy Murray

Three years ago at Melbourne Park, Murray caught everyone by surprise by tearfully announcing he feared his illustrious career was coming to an end. The hip injury that had plagued him since the summer of 2017 was debilitating and the only option left was resurfacing surgery that saw metal inserted into the joint.

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No player has returned to the singles game after that operation – but Murray did later that year. On Tuesday he played on the same court where a retirement video – featuring messages from his peers – was infamously and prematurely played after he was beaten by Bautista Agut.

Another niggling injury stopped Murray going to Melbourne Park in 2020 and last year his hopes were scattered when a positive test for coronavirus stopped him from taking part.

The venue’s title has changed – renamed from Melbourne Arena in honour of the former Victorian Prime Minister – and the atmosphere was different, with only 50% capacity allowed because of coronavirus restrictions.

Sportslumo Desk

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