Andy Murray’s fairytale run at the Australian Open came to an end on Saturday after he was defeated by Roberto Bautista Agut.
The three-time Grand Slam winner has thrilled back-to-back years this year by winning two marathon matches in Melbourne but Bautista Agut proved a step too far.
The Spaniard won in four sets – 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 6-4 – and was relieved to finally find a way past his opponent to win the match point.
Murray spent more than 10.5 hours on court heading into the third-round match and struggled to get to points.
The 35-year-old needed five sets to beat Matteo Berrettini in the first round of the tournament and then came from two sets down to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis in an epic contest that lasted five hours and 45 minutes and ended at 4.05am. The second-round match, which ended Friday morning, was the longest match of Murray’s career.
It was no surprise, Murray looked tired as he struggled to hold on to a first set that was over before it even started.
But, as he has done throughout his career, Murray dug deep and came from a break down to win a stunning tie break in the second set.
It was another example of the grit and determination Murray brings to tennis but, on this occasion, it wasn’t enough.
The second set seemed to hurt Murray as Bautista Agut was on edge for the remainder of the match.
Murray never went away though, and continued to punish his opponent until the end and landed an array of stunning shots.
After losing the match point, Murray received a standing ovation from the crowd as he walked off the court.
The pair previously met at the Margaret Court Arena in 2019 in what was likely Murray’s last match at a Grand Slam.
But the veteran decided to continue his career and, after receiving multiple treatments for the injury, Murray proved he still has more to give four years later.
“2 days ago I randomly bumped into the doctor who told me in 2017 ‘The good news is that your hip problem can be fixed but you won’t be able to play professional sports again.’ I think we dispelled that myth in the last 5 days,” Murray said Tweeted After the match on Saturday.
Bautista Agut will now play American Tommy Paul in the last 16.
“Andy always plays very hard,” Bautista Agut said in his on-court interview.
He knows very well how to play Grand Slam matches. I am happy with the way I handled the nerves and excitement through the match to play good tennis. I am very happy with this win.”