Gutsy Andy Murray fought to the end before losing an epic Australian Open farewell match 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (4/7) at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut Monday.
The Scot, who said he will retire this season because of chronic hip pain, seemed finished at two sets and a break down to the 22nd seeded Spaniard in the first round but somehow battled back to force a fifth set.
Murray announced at an emotional press conference on Friday that he would retire at Wimbledon this year, but conceded the Australian Open could be his last tournament, so great have been his injury problems.
But he left the window open for a comeback after a match in which he showed his fighting spirit had not been diminished.
The in-form Bautista Agut had beaten world number one Novak Djokovic on his way to winning the Qatar Open at the start of the month and he kept the match under his control, taking a two sets to love lead. Murray then dug deep with the crowd roaring him on, winning the third and fourth sets on tie-breaks.
Once Bautista Agut broke in the fifth, Murray’s resolve finally crumbled and the Spaniard took it 6-2.
The defeat could mean Murray might not be seen on a tennis court again but the fighter that he is, Murray vowed to keep trying. But in all likelihood, this might be the last time we see Sir Andy in action at Melbourne Park in the year’s first Major.
The tributes poured in on social media for the man who has been involved in many an epic tennis match in his career.
Not everyone was quite impressed with the tribute video that was played by the Australian Open organisers at the end, though.