Australian Open: 'It would have been so easy to stop playing' – Murray reflects on unlikely Melbourne return

By Sports Desk January 19, 2022

Andy Murray knows it would have been easy to retire from tennis after his hip surgery but is instead revelling at being able to compete at the Australian Open once again.

Former world number one Murray is featuring in the season's first grand slam for the first time in three years.

In true Murray fashion, he overcame Georgian 21st-seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in five sets in a mammoth first-round tie to set up a clash with Japan's Taro Daniel on Thursday.

That Murray is here at all is remarkable given the scenes in 2019 when the now 34-year-old gave an emotional news conference following a first-round defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut questioning whether he would be able to continue playing.

Speaking about his Melbourne return, Murray told BBC Sport: "To be finally back at the Australian Open again this year, playing on the same court as 2019 and then beating Basilashvili in five sets, was a brilliant experience.

"In 2019 it didn't feel like it was me out there on the court. I was severely hampered physically and had little to no preparation. I didn't know if I was going to be able to play again.

"After the hip surgery, and loads of stops and starts with more niggles, playing in grand slams again is a place which I have worked so hard to get to.

"It would have been easy to stop playing, but I kept trying and trying. I'm proud of that work and effort."

Murray was unable to compete in Melbourne in 2021 after testing positive for COVID-19.

"There was another setback last year when I couldn't come to Australia because I tested positive for coronavirus shortly before I was supposed to fly out," he continued.

"That was brutal for me. I had trained really hard through the end of November and December, I was playing really well. I had played lots of practice, I felt really fit and then that positive test happened. I was gutted.

"I was healthy, I'd just had the virus and recovered from it. I understood the rules and situation here in Melbourne but I just wished I would have been able to play."

Murray reached the final of the Sydney Classic earlier in January, eventually going down to Alan Karatsev 6-3 6-3. It was just the second ATP Tour-level final he has reached since the start of 2019.

Now, the three-time major winner is hoping to push on after that morale-boosting success over Basilashvili.

"Beating Basilashvili was a big win for me," Murray added. "A lot of work has gone into getting back to this tournament and to physically compete at the highest level, so beating a guy ranked in the top 25 and winning a match in five sets was very satisfying.

"I'm probably never going to move as well as I did as I did when I was 25.

"But the more matches I play, staying healthy for a long period of time and not missing lots of training, means I am going to continue to improve my movement. Then, my physicality on the court will get better."

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