MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) —
Andy Murray evened his
Australian Open match at a set apiece and stood in a corner of Margaret Court Arena with his hands on his hips, staring up into the stands, where spectators were jumping and screaming, pumping their arms and waving blue-and-white Scottish flags.
All of those fans, and Murray himself, could have been excused in that moment for thinking, "Here we go again!"
Except there would be no
five-set thriller this time for Murray and his many backers. No
after-midnight finish. No classic comeback. And no victory. No, the wear-and-tear of Murray's two previous unending, unyielding, performances simply took too much out of his 35-year-old body and metal hip, leaving him with more than a half-dozen blisters and an aching lower back during a 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4 loss to Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round Saturday night.
"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. I'm very proud of that," said Murray, a five-time finalist at Melbourne Park and the owner of three Grand Slam titles from elsewhere. "But, yeah, I'm also disappointed."
This match ended a minute shy of 3 1/2 hours, which seemed rather short and sweet when compared to Murray's exhausting trek that took more than 10 1/2 hours earlier in the week: He beat 13th-seeded Matteo Berrettini in a five-setter in the first round on Tuesday, then eliminated Thanasi Kokkinakis in another five-setter in the second round that began on Thursday night and concluded a little after 4 a.m. on Friday.