Andy Murray lost his opening round at the Australian Open but he went down fighting, leaving hopes that he might well continue playing and make Wimbledon where, as intimated, he would love to bring the curtain down on his career.
I don’t really have anything else to say. Thank you to everyone here supporting me. Maybe I’ll see you again… I’ll do everything possible to try Andy Murray
But if this was his swansong, the Aussie crowd did him proud as he fought for over four hours in his attempt to beat, not only a stubborn opponent in Roberto Bautista Agut, but the niggling and interminable pain which has kept him out of the game for so long.
The former world number one showed why he will be missed. His fighting spirit kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as they roared him on and no doubt were surprised and thrilled at seeing him, after dropping the opening two sets, going on to level the match before exhaustion and his lack of match fitness, proved too big a hurdle for him to clear in the decider.
Should this be his swansong, then he went out in a classic encounter 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-2.
“That was incredible, thank you so, so much to everyone who came out tonight,” the 31-year-old and five-time Aussie Open finalist, said in his on-court interview.
“I’ve honestly loved playing here over the years, it’s an amazing place to play tennis. If this was my last match playing tennis it was an amazing way to end. I gave literally everything I had. It wasn’t enough tonight so congratulations to Roberto and his team.
“I don’t really have anything else to say. Thank you to everyone here supporting me. Maybe I’ll see you again… I’ll do everything possible to try.
“If I want to go again I’ll need to have a big operation which there’s no guarantees I’ll be able to come back from anyway. I’ll give it my best shot!”
Whether he confirms later that he will retire while in Australia, the organisers were aware that he wouldn’t be returning to Melbourne next year and marked the occasion by showing a video featuring many of the currents ATP and WTA stars congratulating him on his career and achievements, which his Spanish opponent fully endorsed on court. “Today was an incredible night, no? Andy deserves this atmosphere, Andy deserves all the people who came to watch him. It was an unbelievable match, really good fight. He gave everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis!”