Andy Murray practices ahead of Australian Open
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Andy Murray played his first Australian Open match in three years on Tuesday, overcoming 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in a thrilling five-set battle. It was the former world No 1’s first match in Melbourne since prematurely announcing his retirement there in 2019. While the crowd gave him a warm reception on his return, the Brit was thrown off by chants of Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark ‘Suii’ celebration.
Murray returned to John Cain Arena exactly three years and four days after playing what he thought could be the final match of his career.
After announcing that he would be unlikely to play ever again after the Australian Open in a tearful press conference back in 2019, the five-time finalist came from two-sets-down to force a decider against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in an epic match whie hobbling around on essentially one hip.
Losing the final set 6-2, a video montage of his fellow tennis players including the likes of Rafael Nadal was played on the court as everyone wished him well in his retirement, before Murray decided to drop a bombshell and admitted he’d try to return the following year.
While it has instead taken three years to be back in Melbourne, the current world No 113 did mount a comeback later in 2019 after undergoing a hip resurfacing surgery, winning a doubles and singles title that year.
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While he was unable to return in 2020 over injury and 2021 after testing positive for Covid, Murray finally made his long-awaited return to the Australian Open on Tuesday in a very similar situation – facing the 21st seed on John Cain Arena.
But he was far from the player that was limping around the court in pain three years ago, having just come off a run to the final at the Sydney ATP 250 – his first final since winning the European Open in 2019.
He raced to a 6-1 lead over Nikoloz Basilashvili, just six days after defeating the world No 23 in a three-set battle in Sydney.
Like his match three years ago, the first-round clash soon developed into an epic battle, with Murray getting over the line after three hours and 52 minutes.
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Towards the end of his 6-1 3-6 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 victory over the Georgian, the lively Melbourne crowd started to get rowdy as the match entered the evening.
There were multiple shouts of Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark ‘Suii’ celebration which many – including Murray – mistook for boos.
“Painful stuff there. Those guys,” he said during his on-court interview as the crowd continued to impersonate Ronaldo.
The former world No 1 then elaborated in his press conference, branding the Suii chance as “incredible irritating”.
“Initially, I thought it was [booing], because there were some people booing during my practice yesterday,” the three-time Grand Slam champion said.
“I have no idea what for.”
Murray explained that the penny later dropped, but he still didn’t appreciate the noise coming from the stands every few minutes.
He continued: “Yeah, so originally that’s what I thought it was.
“But then yeah after a few times it was like, no, they’re doing that, I think it’s like “Siuu” or something that Ronaldo does when he scores.
“And, yeah, it was incredibly irritating (smiling). Yeah, I think that’s what they were doing.”
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