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 thrilled the Melbourne crowd this year by rolling back the years and winning two marathon races, 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 looked relieved to finally find a way past his opponent as he won match point.
Murray had spent over 10.5 hours on track heading into the third round game and was struggling to get on points.
The 35-year-old took five sets to beat Matteo Berrettini in the first round of the tournament and then rallied from two sets to beat Thanasi Kokkinakis in an epic match that lasted five hours and 45 minutes, ending at 4:05 . The second round match, which ended on Friday morning, was the longest of Murray’s career.
It was no surprise then that Murray looked exhausted as he struggled to get to grips with the first set, which was over before it really started.
But as he has throughout his career, Murray dug deep and recovered from a break down in the second set to win an astonishing tiebreaker.
It was another example of the grit and determination that Murray brings to the sport of tennis, but on this occasion it just wasn’t enough.
The grueling second set seemed to take its toll on Murray as Bautista Agut had the advantage for the remainder of the match.
However, Murray never went away and continued to punish his opponent to the very end, producing a series of stunning shots.
After losing the match point, Murray received a standing ovation from the crowd as he stumbled off the field.
The pair had previously met at Margaret Court Arena in 2019 in what was supposedly Murray’s last grand slam match.
But the veteran decided to continue his career and, having undergone multiple treatments for injuries, Murray has proven he has even more to give four years later.
“2 days ago I randomly ran into the doctor who told me in 2017 ‘the good news is that the problem with your hip can be fixed, but you will not be able to play professional sports again.’ I think we’ve dispelled that myth over the last 5 days,” Murray tweeted after Saturday’s game.
Bautista Agut now plays American Tommy Paul in the last 16.
“Always playing Andy is very difficult,” said Bautista Agut during his on-court interview.
“He knows very well how to play a grand slam match. I am happy with how I dealt with the nerves and tension during the match to play good tennis. I am very happy with the win.”