Three years on from what was thought to be Andy Murray’s last match ever in tennis, the Scottish former World Number One has come fighting back with a tense and exhilarating five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The 34-year-old looked to be cruising to an easy victory in the first set before the Georgian 21st seed fought back in the second set.
Murray once again came back in the third before Basilashvili came back once more to bring the balance back to 2-2.
With everything to play for in the fifth and final set, Murray ultimately came away with a 6-4 win to take the match 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5-7) 6-4. The match lasted a phenomenal three hours and 52 minutes.
It had been believed that Murray had played his final match back at the Australian Open in 2019 when he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut. The former British number one left the sport to undergo a hip surgery for an injury that had been plaguing Murray since 2017.
No player had ever undergone this surgery and returned to the court but Murray not only returned to the court, he did so later in the same year.
Murray had then hoped to return to Melbourne Park in 2020 but another niggling injury prevented him from competing.
The Glaswegian-born tennis star was then forced to wait yet again after he tested positive for Covid-19 just before the 2021 tournament.
His arrival back to Australia will be one to remember as he endured a long and arduous battle with his opponent.
Basilashvili and Murray met just a week ago when the Scotsman beat the Georgian in the Sydney tennis classic and Murray’s winning streak against Basilashvili has continued once more.
Did other British players win in the first round?
Murray was not the only Brit to have victories in the first round of the Australian Open. Heather Watson and Dan Evans also progressed with wins over Mayar Sherif and David Goffin respectively.
Evans succeeded a straight set win over his opponent while Watson won 6-3 5-7 6-2.
Emma Raducanu is due to play American Sloane Stephens at 10.50am GMT today (Tuesday 18 January 2022).
What did Murray say after the match?
Speaking to the press after the match, Murray said: “It’s amazing. It’s been a tough three or four years but I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get here.
“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is always incredible.
“It is where I thought I had potentially played my last match but to win a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t have asked any more.”
In response to his aims for the Australian Open, Murray replied: “Hopefully keep improving - there are things in my game I could dobetter.
“I would like to have a deep run. It’s something I haven’t had since I came back from injury and I hope i can do it in this tournament.
“It was a brutal match in Sydney. We played for three hours over three sets. He hits the ball huge from the back of the court. I had to do a lot of running and a lot of defending.
“He is not the sort of guy you want to see next to your name in the draw too often. Obviously there was a little bit of confidence from the win last week and thankfully I managed to get over the line today.”
When will Murray next play?
Murray is now set to play the Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round on Thursday 20 January 2022. The time of the match is yet to be confirmed.
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