|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 16-29 January|
|Coverage: Commentary every day from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra ‘Tennis Breakfast’ live from Melbourne, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website & app|
Andy Murray is out of the Australian Open after eventually losing to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in a valiant display where he struggled to move.
Former world number one Murray finished his second-round match at 4am on Friday and, returning to court 39 hours later, was beaten 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 6-4.
The 35-year-old Scot, who had career-threatening hip surgery in 2019, was the last Briton to fall in the singles.
Earlier on Saturday, Dan Evans lost 6-4 6-2 6-3 to fifth seed Andrey Rublev.
Murray left everything out on the court before succumbing to the man who famously beat him at the 2019 Australian Open in what the three-time Grand Slam champion feared would be the final match of his career.
Two weeks later, Murray had the hip resurfacing surgery he thought he would not be able to return from – but four years on he was back in Melbourne aiming to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time since Wimbledon in 2017.
Murray said he had “a lot of mixed emotions” after losing to 34-year-old Bautista Agut.
“I feel like I gave everything that I had to this event so I’m proud of that,” he added.
“That is really, in whatever you’re doing, all you can do. You can’t always control the outcome. You can’t control how well you’re going to play or the result.
“You can control the effort that you put into it, and I gave everything that I had the last three matches.”
A step too far even for Murray
Ever since Murray beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in a five-set thriller that ended at a time he described as a “farce”, the question was: how would he recover physically against 24th seed Bautista Agut?
Murray, ranked 66th in the world, needed five hours and 45 minutes to beat Kokkinakis in the longest match of his eventful career.
That was already an extraordinary effort – particularly for an ageing player with a lump of metal in his hip – after needing nearly five hours to beat Italian 13th seed Matteo Berrettini in the opening round.
“I slept from 6-9am on the morning I played Kokkinakis, which obviously isn’t enough,” said Murray.
“Then I had to come in [to Melbourne Park] and had about seven or eight blisters that I had to have drained.
“My feet didn’t feel great. My legs were actually OK, but I was struggling with my lower back. That was affecting my serve
“That was really the main thing that I was struggling with.”
The signs were not good from the start.
Regularly wincing after points, and walking gingerly between them, the five-time finalist looked to be in pain as Bautista Agut wrapped up the opening set in just 29 minutes.
When the Spaniard, a consistent counter-puncher, moved a break up in the second set it looked like it would be a short night.
But Murray, as he has so often in the past, refused to accept he was beaten.
The British number four started moving a little more freely, at least during the points, and fought back to take the set into a tie-break.
There, he again needed his fighting spirit. Murray trailed 5-2 but, with the support of the crowd behind him, recovered and levelled the match with his second set point.
A tight third set – where Murray continued to produce some stunning shots but bent over in pain between points – stayed on serve until he finally buckled to help Bautista Agut break in the eighth game.
Despite struggling to even serve, Murray broke for a 2-0 lead in the fourth set but Bautista Agut remained patient and broke for 5-4 before serving out the match.
A excited celebration from the mild-mannered Bautista Agut signalled how deep he had to dig to see off the gallant Murray, who received a rapturous standing ovation when he trudged off court.
“Playing Andy in a Slam is always very tough, he knows the game very well,” said 2019 quarter-finalist Bautista Agut, who plays American Tommy Paul in the last 16.
“I am very happy how I managed all the nerves and the tension during the match. I played good tennis and I’m happy with the win.”
Evans outpowered by Rublev after sharing banana
Evans, seeded 25th, was outpowered by Rublev, who hit 60 winners to 22 unforced errors in a strong display.
The Russian will face Danish teenager and ninth seed Holger Rune as he bids to reach the Melbourne quarter-finals for the first time.
“Andrey was too good. He played some good tennis,” said the 32-year-old Englishman.
“I didn’t feel I did too much wrong. I had a little chance in the first when I had break point, but I didn’t take it.
“He was very aggressive and better than me.”
Evans had won three of his six previous meetings with the 25-year-old Russian, but all of those were three-set matches.
The British number two, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne in 2017, started well against Rublev, creating a break opportunity for a 4-3 lead in the first set.
However, Rublev saved it and broke to close out the set, before upping his aggression to win the next two sets in solid style.
“I’m not stupid, I know it’s three out of five and a very different match to two out of three,” said Evans.
“That also gave me a lot of confidence that he’d have to win three. Obviously it didn’t work out that way.”
Rublev thanked Evans after the match for giving him a banana during a changeover.
“I asked the ball boy, but Danny asked for bananas earlier and he had two so he just said ‘take it’, and I caught it,” Rublev said.
“He helped me with some energy, for sure. I had extra because I ate the banana.”