Lion-hearted Murray bows out in style

Andy Murray went down to Roberto Bautista-Agut. But is there actually a chance he may play on?

Roberto Bautista-Agut and Andy Murray at the net Australian Open 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Simon Cambers

Sometimes the result is not important.

If it is possible to play a match that encapsulates a career, then Andy Murray did just that on Monday, putting himself, his body and his watching family and friends through the ringer one more time in search of glory.

Having announced on the eve of the event that he planned to retire at Wimbledon because the pain in his right hip had become too bad, Murray fought like a lion and almost pulled off what would have been a dramatic victory, before eventually going down 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2 to Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain.

But in a surprise twist, Murray then hinted that there was a chance he may play on, depending if he decides to have an operation, a hip resurfacing, that theoretically could allow him to play again.

Andy Murray waving goodbye at the Australian Open 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
“No guarantees you can come back from that“

“I have basically two options,” said Murray, who had hinted on court that he could yet try to come back to Australia, where he has lost the final five times. “One is to take the next four and a half months off, then build up, play Wimbledon. Although tonight was not comfortable in terms of my hip - I can't walk properly at all just now - I could play another match.

“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. Having an operation like that, there's absolutely no guarantees I'd be able to play again. I'm fully aware of that. It's a really big operation. There's no guarantees that you can come back from that.

“But there is the possibility, because guys have done it before. Bob Bryan is doing it just now. Some other athletes have given it a go. But, like I said, there's no guarantees. That's kind of the decision I have to make, that possibility of not having one more match by having the operation.”

Andy Murray looking at the sky at the Australian Open 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
Murray snatched the third set

If it was Murray’s last match, then what a match it was. In the first two sets, Murray was playing well, but Bautista-Agut was too smart, manoeuvring the ball around and wrong-footing the Scot, to good effect.

But from the depths, down two sets and a break, Murray roared into life. This was the Murray of old, throwing himself everywhere around the court, chasing lost causes and pushing Bautista-Agut around. The Spaniard was spooked and Murray snatched the third set on the tiebreak.

Andy Murray roaring at the Australian Open 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
Chants ringing around

The Scottish flags were flying and the chants were ringing around. “Andy, Andy, Andy,” and Murray responded. “Come on, let’s go,” he yelled as he stormed his way back into the match, levelling it at two sets apiece when he won the fourth-set tiebreak.

At 1-0, 0-30 on the Bautista-Agut serve, Murray had a real chance but suddenly, his body began to fade and the Spaniard fought back again. This time, there was no coming back for Murray but at 5-1, he enjoyed a moment he will never forget, when the crowd gave him a standing ovation before he stepped up to serve.