Andy Murray’s fairy tale Australian Open career came to an end on Saturday after he was defeated by Roberto Bautista Agut.
The three-time Grand Slam winner wowed the crowds in Melbourne this year by rolling back the years to win a marathon two-match win, but Bautista Agut proved to be 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 when he won match point.
Murray spent over 10.5 hours on the court heading into the third round match and struggled to move on points.
The 35-year-old needed five sets to beat Matteo Berrettini in the first round of the tournament, then rallied from two sets down to defeat Tanasi Kokkinakis in an epic contest that lasted five hours and 45 minutes and finished at 4.05am. 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 take control of the first set, which ended before it really began.
But, as he has throughout his career, Murray went deep and rebounded after a breakdown in the second set to win a stunning equalizing break.
It was another example of the grit and grit that Murray brings to the sport of tennis, but on this occasion, it wasn’t enough.
The exhausting second set seemed to take its toll on Murray as Bautista Agut had the advantage for the rest of the match.
Murray never got away, chastising his opponent until the very end and producing an array of stunning shots.
After losing a match point, Murray received a standing ovation from the crowd as he limped off the court.
The pair previously met at Margaret Court Arena in 2019 in what was assumed to be Murray’s last Grand Slam match.
But the veteran decided to continue his career, and after receiving multiple treatments for injuries, Murray proved he still had more to offer four years later.
“It’s very difficult to always play with Andy,” Bautista Agut said during his on-court interview after the match.
“He knows very well how to play a Grand Slam match. I am happy with the way I dealt with nerves and tension during the match, to play tennis well. I am very happy to win.”
Bautista Agut will now play American Tommy Ball in the round of 16.