By Jacob Toland
Andy Murray has possibly played his last ever game of professional tennis after crashing out of the Australian Open in the first round after a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 defeat.
The battling Brit came from two sets down against number 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut to tie the match at two sets each. It was vintage Murray as he won both sets on tie breaks which looked to have tired him down.
It was vintage Murray as the two-time Wimbledon champion had worked hard against the Spaniard bringing the sets back to two each but it would be Agut who would easily win the fifth set 6-2.
The defeat now means that Murray can only qualify for Wimbledon through a wildcard pick if he does choose to play on through the pain.
Murray’s mum Judy and his brother, doubles player Jamie were watching the game from the stands and were delighted when Murray looked set to pull the tie level. Those hopes will have been dashed as the career of a legend now looks unclear.
Murray claimed after the game that if he was going to make Wimbledon in the summer, he would have to undergo a serious operation which would involve resurfacing his hip. He would be 32 by the time Wimbledon comes around which still be an optimum age for tennis players who can play into their late thirties and early forties.
Murray announced his intention to retire on Friday after missing most of the last two years due to injury. He ended up leaving his press conference in tears following the announcement which rocked the entire sporting world.
Tennis greats from all over the world have been quick to praise the Scot including Murray’s long term rivals and friends Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who are all gearing up for the Australian Open.
During his astonishing career, Murray has won three grand slam tournaments with his first coming at the US Open in 2012. Victories at Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 ensured that he was the first British player to win the tournament in since Fred Perry in 1936 following the agony of a straight sets defeat to Roger Federer in 2012. He would have his revenge just two weeks later as he faced the same opponent to win a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2015 Davis Cup make up his major wins.
The defeat in Melbourne led to fans paying tribute with Scotland’s First Minister leading the way as she called Murray a ‘Braveheart’. Although many were left confused as a tribute video mentioning the word ‘retirement’ several times was played on the big screen after Murray was interviewed on-court in which he said he had yet to make a final decision.
The defeat in Melbourne comes on the back of Wimbledon announcing that they are planning to install a statue of the two time winner at the All England Club for the man who has been hailed by many as Scotland’s greatest ever sportsmen at the age of just 31.