Brisbane | Murray falters in opening round

Stormy weather has prevented progress in the men’s draw at the Brisbane International event which opens the 2024 ATP Tour and acts as a warm-up event for the Australian Open which kicks off on January 14.

If things are going well, I'd love to keep going. But, if they're not, and I'm not enjoying it, it could be the last year, yes. Andy Murray

So far only five men’s first round matches have been completed under the roof of the Pat Rafter Arena and, amongst those which have been played Andy Murray suffered a frustrating defeat at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov, the second seed from Bulgaria.

Murray, who had hoped to get his 2024 campaign off to a good start, was no doubt disappointed as he had the match well in hand for a set and half only for Dimitrov to recover by eliminating his errors to eventually claim a 4-6 7-5 6-2 win after a two-and-a-half hour battle.

The two protagonists, former champions of Brisbane, held their respective serves for the first nine games when Murray suddenly came under pressure, but he held and immediately pressed Dimitrov into a series of errors.

In the tenth game a wayward backhand and a double fault put the Bulgarian in trouble. He followed with a drive volley into the net to give his opponent two set points and then sent a forehand over the baseline to concede the set.

Now both players seemed to be on edge as the second set progressed with both of them making errors bringing up a run of three breaks which put Dimitrov 6-5 up.

But Muray wasn’t going to let it go quietly making the second seed work hard to level. He earned a break back point with one of his stunning trademark lobs on the run which even drew applause from Dimitrov!

Grigor Dimitrov fist pumps in celebration as he walks off with Andy Murray

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Bulgarian staved off the break point, hitting a smash with broken string in his racket which luckily for him, landed on the sideline much to Murray’s visible frustration.

Dimitrov did level and took control with an early break in the third and with Murray showing signs of fatigue, secured a second break to go 3-0 ahead.

The former world No.1 did rally but was unable to turn the tide.

But Murray wasn’t the only big name to bow out in the opening round. Ben Shelton, the third seed from the US, crashed out to Russia’s Roman Safiulin 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 while top seed, Denmark’s Holger Rune recovered from the loss of his opening set to eventually dispatch Australia’s Max Purcell 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Prior to the match Murray admitted 2024 could be his last before retiring if his results didn’t improve on 2023.

“If I was in a situation like I was at the end of last year, then I probably wouldn’t go again,” Murray said.

“But then if physically I’m doing well and my results are good and I’m playing well, then that’s enjoyable and I could see myself still playing.

“We’ll see how the year goes, see how the body holds up.

“If things are going well, I’d love to keep going.

“But, if they’re not, and I’m not enjoying it, it could be the last year, yes.”

Murray’s preparations for the new season were dealt a blow at the start of winter with injuries and illness preventing him from completing a full programme.

He added: “I had the shoulder injury before Davis Cup [in November] so I wasn’t able to serve for a few weeks, and then there’s obviously a gradual build-up to being able to serve full out.

“And also I got quite sick literally just as I was leaving to go to Dubai (for warm-weather training), so that made things a bit tricky – and I had a bruised meniscus in my knee which also restricted me from doing certain things.”

His subsequent opening loss in Brisbane doesn’t augur well but his fans will continue rooting for him, especially as he always seems on the verge of making that breakthrough.



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