Having made the Sydney International final, Andy Murray had hoped to go deep at the Australian Open where a couple of years ago, his career nearly ended but unfortunately for him, he ran into a qualifier who was on top of his form on the day.
Making second rounds of Slams is not something I find particularly motivating. I want to be doing better than that. It depends on how I get on this year results wise and how I perform in the big events Andy Murray
Consequently it wasn’t surprising to learn after his second round 6-4 6-4 6-4 loss to Japan’s Taro Daniel, the world No.120, that Murray was more than just disappointed, declaring ‘it just wasn’t good enough’.
The 34-year-old former world No.1 had started his campaign with lung-busting five setter over the big Georgian 21st seed, Nikoloz Basilashvili, so this defeat was a tough pill to swallow.
“I mean, yeah. But not if I do what I did tonight too often this season. This is a really important year for me for a number of reasons and I want to perform well in the big events. For me, tonight is not good enough in that respect,” he admitted.
“Making second rounds of Slams is not something I find particularly motivating. I want to be doing better than that. It depends on how I get on this year results wise and how I perform in the big events.
“I’m really, really disappointed. Very frustrated. A tough loss for me that’s for sure.
“I felt alright physically. I pulled up pretty well [after the Basilashvili match] so I was pleased from that perspective. I just made way too many errors on the court.”
It was the first time at a grand slam, that Murray had lost to a player ranked as low as Daniel and subsequent comments raised the possibility of retirement.
“When you know you’ve not got many years left it is frustrating,” he said.
“I put a lot into the off-season for practising and preparing, hopefully to not play like that in the big tournaments.
“So it is especially disappointing when you perform like that.”
In contrast the victory for the 28-year-old Daniel was very sweet as he reached the third round of slam for the first time in his career.
On paper, Murray’s experience should have seen him through, but Daniel proved to be more than up for it.
“After a good win in the first round I created an opportunity for myself. It was probably a match I should win and I didn’t take that chance,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“I was not able to sustain a good enough level for long enough, whereas he was solid throughout.
“I’m obviously very disappointed with that.”
British interest is now focused on Dan Evans who was handed a walkover into the third round by Arthur Rinderknecht who was forced to pull out with a wrist injury before the match was called.
Evans, 31, and the 24th seed, will now face the ninth seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime on Saturday, the Canadian having survived a four-hour 19-minute struggle to eventually get past Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 7-6(4).
The 21-year-old needed four set points to finish off the third set, and recovered from a break down in the fourth, before eventually cementing victory with a lunging forehand volley winner.
“Definitely getting plenty of tennis so far this week,” Auger-Aliassime, who needed five sets to beat Emil Ruusuvuori in round one, said.
“Crazy match it was. I mean, credits to Alejandro. I know him from juniors way back and he’s a great guy, tough opponent. He showed up with a great level today.
“(I’m) just happy that it fell on my side. (It’s a great result) when you play four tiebreaks in a row and I was able to win three out of four.”
There were two upsets on day four with the loss of Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov.
Schwartzman, the 13th seed from Argentina, crashed out to the local wild card Chris O’Connell who claimed a 7-6(6) 6-4 6-4 victory after three hours and seven minutes to make the third round of a grand slam for the first time.
There he will face Maxime Cressy who advanced at the expense of the Czech qualifier Tomas Machac 6-1 3-6 6-1 7-6(5)
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court,” O’Connell said.
“Been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this, it’s a dream come true. It’s a little corny, but it is.
“I knew how crucial that first set was,” O’Connell, the world No.175, said.
“It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat. It was just getting hotter and hotter.”
Meanwhile Dimitrov, the 26th seed from Bulgaria, was defeated by Benoit Paire 6-4 6-4 6-7(4) 7-6(2) for a fourth time in his career but to make further progress he will have to get past Stefanos Tsitsipas next.
Much was expected between the Daniil Medvedev match against Nick Kyrgios which brought the days play to a conclusion.
Kyrgios’ big serve did cause the Russian, the title favourite, plenty of problems but Medvedev was always able to gain the upper hand when it mattered in front of a hostile crowd 7-6(1) 4-6 6-4 6-2.
Jannik Sinner, meanwhile, eased into the third round with a dominant 6-2 6-4 6-3 win over Steve Johnson while Taylor Fritz is quietly progressing with a relatively routine 6-4 6-3 7-6(5) victory over his countryman Frances Tiafoe.
Also through is Alex de Minaur and Russian top-10 star Andrey Rublev, the former defeating Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 6-4 6-4 6-2 and the latter trouncing Ricardas Berankis 6-4 6-2 6-0.