Brave­heart Mur­ray bows out

Scot loses epic, Fed­erer and Nadal whip ri­vals

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

arthri­tis and she was in tears af­ter­wards. “Last year I had some spe­cial mem­o­ries and just to be able to be back out here on Rod Laver Arena is some­thing ex­tremely spe­cial and emo­tional,” she said. Sec­ond seed and 2016 cham­pion An­gelique Ker­ber was also im­pres­sive, breez­ing past Slove­nia’s Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-2. Maria Shara­pova, a win­ner at Mel­bourne in 2008, sig­nalled her in­tent with a rare 6-0, 6-0 dou­ble bagel de­mo­li­tion of Bri­tain’s Har­riet Dart. Play­ing in her 15th Aus­tralian Open, the three-time fi­nal­ist said she was pleased to go through so eas­ily as she bat­tles back from in­juries. “I’m still work­ing through some painful days. But, you know, I felt like I did all the right things to­day in or­der to get through that match,” said the Rus­sian. Fifth seeded Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open cham­pion, claimed an easy two-set win against fel­low Amer­i­can Tay­lor Townsend. with a con­vinc­ing 6-3, 6-4 win over Bel­gium’s Ali­son van Uyt­vanck. It was an emo­tional win for the Dane who is strug­gling with rheuma­toid MEL­BOURNE: A bat­tling Andy Mur­ray bowed out of the Aus­tralian Open at the first hur­dle yes­ter­day, but it was busi­ness as usual for ruth­less Roger Fed­erer and Rafael Nadal who joined Caro­line Woz­ni­acki in round two. The Scot­tish five-time Mel­bourne Park fi­nal­ist gave it ev­ery­thing he had and showed glimpses of the form that won him three Grand Slams, but his ail­ing body let him down dur­ing a gutsy 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 de­feat to 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Mur­ray tear­fully re­vealed be­fore the tour­na­ment that he was in con­stant agony from a hip in­jury and planned to re­tire this year. The 31-year-old hopes to end his ca­reer at Wim­ble­don, but has ad­mit­ted the Aus­tralian Open could be his last event, un­less he has a late change of heart. “Amaz­ing. That was in­cred­i­ble, thank you so, so much to ev­ery­one that came out tonight,” he said after be­ing given a rap­tur­ous send-off. “Hon­estly I’ve loved play­ing here over the years. If this was my last match, an amaz­ing way to end. I gave ev­ery­thing I had and it wasn’t enough tonight.” Mur­ray had en­tered the packed Mel­bourne Arena to a huge ova­tion as Scot­tish Saltires and British Union flags were flown while one ban­ner pro­claimed: “There will only ever be one Andy Mur­ray”. While his tour­na­ment ended in de­spair, Swiss master Fed­erer, six years older than Mur­ray, con­tin­ued his march to­wards a record sev­enth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle. He swept past Uzbek De­nis Is­tomin 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 said he was in “dis­be­lief” that he was the dou­ble de­fend­ing cham­pion at his age and vowed to give his all to make it three in a row. “I’m go­ing to try ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble [to win again] and leave it all on the court,” said the world num­ber three. His long-time ri­val Nadal, who cut short his 2018 sea­son to have surgery on a foot in­jury, showed no mercy to Aus­tralian wild­card James Duck­worth in his open­ing round clash. The 17-time Grand Slam win­ner cruised through 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 and said it was an im­por­tant vic­tory. “Not easy to come back after a lot of months, es­pe­cially against a player play­ing su­per ag­gres­sive on ev­ery point,” said the 2009 Aus­tralian cham­pion, who showed no sign of any in­jury wor­ries. “The en­ergy I feel in this place is fan­tas­tic.” The sec­ond seed is bid­ding to be­come the first man in the Open era, and only the third in his­tory along with Roy Emer­son and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more oc­ca­sions. Fifth seed Kevin An­der­son pro­gressed, as did Nex­tGen Fi­nals cham­pion Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas. But ninth seed John Is­ner be­came the first top seed to crash out. World No.3 Woz­ni­acki, who made her Grand Slam break­through in Mel­bourne last year, opened her de­fence

AP

Andy Mur­ray waves to the crowd after his first round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut yes­ter­day.

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