'I literally gave everything that I had': Murray falls in Australian Open's 1st round
31-year-old Scotsman loses in opening round at Grand Slam for first time in 11 years
If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself — and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother — quite a gutsy goodbye, the type of never-give-in performance he's famous for.
WATCH | Reaction to news that Murray will retire this season
Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray's first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years.
'I literally gave everything that I had'
"If today was my last match, look, it was a brilliant way to finish," Murray said. "I literally gave everything that I had on the court, fought as best as I could, and performed a lot better than what I should have done with the amount I've been able to practice and train."
Murray, just 31, is a year removed from his operation, and he said that he will decide in the next week or so whether to have a second one. If opts to avoid another procedure, he might be able to play in July at Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. If he decides for further surgery, then Monday's match might have been his last.
Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on his knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark.
And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played.
They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators.
They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set.
They rose when the compelling contest ended.
"Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him," Bautista Agut said. "He's a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis."
Video tribute following the match
Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens.
"Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy," Federer said. "I'm your biggest fan."
This tribute to Andy Murray, featuring Roger and Rafa and Novak and so many more, will give you all the feels. <a href="https://t.co/1e1M9S8MUY">pic.twitter.com/1e1M9S8MUY</a>—@SI_Tennis
The stands were dotted with British and Scottish flags and with signs of support. When Bautista Agut entered, he was greeted by a smattering of polite applause. When Murray was introduced, there were full-throated screams, followed by chants of his first name.
As play began, Murray delighted his well-wishers every so often with terrific shots on a full sprint and his trademark, quick-reflex returns. When he flubbed a shot or otherwise let a point slide by, Murray displayed the muttering and leg-slapping self-contempt the world has come to know and expect — and, let's face it, love — from the guy.
For all that Murray accomplished over the years, including reaching No. 1 in the rankings and a pair of Olympic singles gold medals, he never was able to leave Melbourne with the trophy, finishing as the runner-up five times.
When Murray eventually succumbed to his weariness — not to mention Bautista Agut — the arena speakers blared Queen's "We are the Champions," with its fitting line: "And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end."
If this was, indeed, the end, Murray did just that.
"I'd be OK," he said, "with that being my last match."
Sharapova 'double bagels' Dart
Maria Sharapova got out of the Melbourne heat as quickly as she could, needing just 63 minutes to beat British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-0, 6-0 in the first match on Rod Laver Arena at this year's Australian Open.
Sharapova, who wore an ice collar during breaks to help alleviate the 30 C temperature, was making her 15th appearance at the season-opening major.
The only break point Sharapova faced was when she double-faulted in the fifth game of the second set.
Dart, who described Sharapova as her idol before the match, lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year after being given a wild card in her only previous Grand Slam singles appearance.
The 22-year-old Dart had a game point on her serve in the eighth game of the match, but Sharapova rallied to break the British player and continue the rout.
Another British player, Heather Watson, also lost early on day one, beaten 6-1, 6-2 by 31st-seeded Petra Martic.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki saved a break point in the opening game but there was little trouble to follow as she beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-4 in the first round. Woznicaki, who saved both break points she faced, clinched the match on her third match point with a forehand to the open court.
The third-seeded Wozniacki beat Simona Halep in last year's final to capture her first major title.
Wozniacki opened night play at Rod Laver Arena, where three tournament champions preceded her and all won — Maria Sharapova,
Nadal moves on
Rafael Nadal wasn't about to let another Australian wild-card entry beat him at a Grand Slam tournament.
The Spanish left-hander beat No. 238th-ranked James Duckworth 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, his 15th win in 17 matches against wild cards at Grand Slam tournaments.
Nadal's only previous defeats to wildcard entrants at majors were against American James Blake in the third round of the 2005 U.S. Open and Australian Nick Kyrgios in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2014.
Nadal, wearing a sleeveless top, did an extended left-arm celebratory pump after breaking Duckworth's serve after two cross-court stunners to lead 4-2 in the third set.
His only stumble as he served for the match and was broken by Duckworth, who got back to 5-4. But Nadal returned the favour, breaking the Australian in the final game of the match.
Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco at Melbourne Park in 2016.
Defending champion Roger Federer began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Denis Istomin.
Playing before a capacity crowd of more than 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena, Federer broke Istomin's serve at 2-2 in the third set on the way to his seventh win in a row without a loss against the Uzbekistan player.
Federer's seventh Australian Open title would be the most by any player. Novak Djokovic, who plays his first-round match on Tuesday, and Roy Emerson, also have six wins each at the Australian Open, although Emerson's wins were before the start of the Open era in 1968.
A win in Melbourne would also be Federer's 100th tour-level title, the second man after Jimmy Connors to win 100 titles. Connors had 109.