Murray crashes out of Australian Open first round in straight sets

Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his first round match against Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Five-time finalist Andy Murray slumped out of the Australian Open at the first hurdle Monday, with the British veteran outplayed by Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

The 36-year-old, who has suggested he may be playing his final season, put up stiff resistance in a 61-minute first set, but the 30th seed slowly ground him down to win 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

“Very tough for me playing with a legend like Andy,” said Etcheverry, 12 years younger than his opponent.

“He is one of my idols, but today I played incredible. I just tried to play my game and focus on my points.”

Murray’s defeat deprived fans of a potential third-round clash with defending champion Novak Djokovic.

To have a chance of facing the top seed, Etcheverry, who reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, must first get past another veteran, Frenchman Gael Monfils.

Murray had a frustrating end to 2023, winning just one match in his last four tournaments, and said in Brisbane this month he will bring down the curtain on his career if the next 12 months follow the same pattern.

The British player, who won Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 and also took the US Open title in 2012, is part of a golden generation coming towards the end of trophy-laden careers.

Roger Federer retired in 2022 and Rafael Nadal had an injury-blighted 2023 and is absent from the Australian Open with a muscle tear.

At 36, Djokovic is still hoping to add to his record haul of 24 Grand Slam titles before hanging up his racquet.

AFP