A proud Andy Murray said he “gave everything” as his 4:05am finish caught up with him in a typically defiant third-round loss at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The 35-year-old bowed out to 24th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 6-4, but was given a huge ovation by an appreciative Melbourne Park crowd.
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Britain’s Murray was clearly feeling the effects of his epic five-setter in round two, which started on Thursday but ended in the early hours of Friday.
Now ranked 66th and sporting a metal hip, the former world number one said he took “great memories” from the first Grand Slam of the year.
The three-time major champion admitted having “mixed emotions”, saying: “I gave everything that I had the last three matches – I’m very proud of that.
“But I’m also disappointed because I put loads of work into the beginning of this year and was playing well enough to have a really good run, have a deep run.”
Murray did not look to make excuses, but said that after two five-setters to get to round three and his early-morning finish against Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis “my feet didn’t feel great”.
The epic five-setter in round two had lasted a gruelling five hours and 45 minutes – the longest match of Murray’s storied career.
The British star detailed the ugly fallout after the epic contest and revealed just how gruesome his injuries were.
“I mean, I slept from 6 until 9 the morning I played the match with Kokkinakis, which obviously isn’t enough (smiling). Then I had to come in here,” Murray said.
“I had about seven or eight blisters that I had to have drained and then he put this liquid in to dry it. I had to come in in the morning to give that time to settle.
“Then I went back to the hotel, slept for a few hours, and then hit for, like, 15 minutes yesterday. Yeah, just the ice baths, saw my physio.
“Yeah, actually, I mean, my feet didn’t feel great. My legs were actually okay. They weren’t too bad. But I was struggling with my lower back. That was affecting my serve. That was really the main thing that I was struggling with today.”
Murray was on the brink of retirement four years ago before undergoing career-saving surgery and at Melbourne Park he quickly became the fan favourite.
He revealed he was told by a doctor his career was done and he’d never play at the professional level again. In a bizarre turn of events, Murray bumped into the same doctor only days ago.
From the sounds of things, walking away from the sport is far from the front of his mind after his epic Australian Open run.
“You never know exactly when the end is going to be. I would like to go out playing tennis like this, where I’m competing with the best players in the world in the biggest events and doing myself justice,” he said.
“I felt good about the way that I was playing. It’s more enjoyable for me when I’m playing like that, when I’m coming into a major event and really believing that I can do some damage.
“But, yeah, I can have a deeper run than the third round of a slam, there’s no question about that. Obviously draws can open up for you. I need to also help myself with that. If I was playing at this level last year, I probably wouldn’t be ranked 50, 60 in the world. It’s up to me to try and change that.”
Murray will now take time to let his body recover before returning to the court in Rotterdam in February.
“Next tournament I’m entered in is Rotterdam. Planning on playing Rotterdam and Dubai,” Murray said.
“I mean, how long it takes to recover? I mean, I don’t really know. I don’t have an injury, which is good. Yeah, my body obviously has had a lot of load and stress go through it these last few days. Yeah, I’ll need to take a bit of time to recover.
“But because of the Davis Cup week, Rotterdam would start three weeks on Monday, so yeah, that should be more than enough time for me to recover, I would think.”
– with AFP