On Saturday, Andy Murray’s valiant run at the Australian Open was ended by Roberto Bautista Agut, as the Spaniard defeated the weary former world number one 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4 in the third round.
After winning in five sets against Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis in consecutive days, Murray was exhausted for the three and a half hour slog at the lighted Margaret Court Arena.
Murray’s previous encounter against Kokkinakis lasted nearly five hours and concluded after four in the morning, leaving him with little sleep, a sore back, and a myriad of blisters that needed draining from his feet.
He walked slowly along the baseline between points like an elderly man, but when the ball was in play, he hurled himself all over the floor, giving Bautista Agut quite a scare.
My foot felt so bad. Murray told the press, “My legs were actually OK, but I was struggling with my lower back.” In today’s match, that was the deciding factor, as it was harming my serve.
In the fourth set, Murray had the support of the crowd and broke Bautista Agut in the opening game, but he blew a 2-0 lead and eventually lost the match after failing to hold serve in the ninth game.
Bautista Agut, who will play American Tommy Paul in the round of eight, celebrated wildly after the fatigued Scot blasted a cross-court forehand long on match point and then retired after netting a sluggish backhand return.
Four years ago, Bautista Agut eliminated Murray from the competition in the first round, prompting the Scottish player to cry and declare that his hip was shot and his career might be finished.
The three-time Grand Slam winner’s comeback after having a metal hip implanted has been gruelling.
Although he was disheartened to not advance to the second week, he was buoyed by his experience at Melbourne Park for a week.
“Many conflicting feelings, but I’m satisfied that I gave this event my all,” he remarked.
But sure, I’m also upset because I put in a lot of effort at the beginning of this year and was playing well enough to have a very nice run, a deep run.
I feel like I could have made much more progress, and that’s why I’m so disheartened.
Despite being 35 years old and in agony, Murray’s on-court agility was remarkable. He travels onward from Melbourne Park without any injuries and feeling prepared for Rotterdam.