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Murray suffers painful first-round exit at Australian Open

Andy Murray suffered arguably his most painful Grand Slam exit since his return from hip problems after a humbling straight-sets defeat to Tomas Etcheverry at the Australian Open on Monday.

The 36-year-old Scot laboured on Kia Arena as he suffered only his second opening-round defeat at the Grand Slam in 16 years.

Murray was outplayed and suffered a 6-4 6-2 6-2 loss in two hours and 23 minutes that was a far cry from his glory days.

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His only other defeat in the first round here since 2008 came five years ago in an emotional five-setter against Roberto Bautista Agut after Murray had revealed the extent of his hip problems.

“An incredible match for me. It’s tough to play with a legend like Andy. He’s one of my idols. We played two times in the last year,” said 30th seed Etcheverry.

“It was a long battle. I hope I can continue at this level in the next match.

“I just tried to play point by point and play my game. I want to keep going. I worked so hard and I need to improve other things.”

Tomas Martin Etcheverry, left, of Argentina, is congratulated by Andy Murray of Britain following their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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Etcheverry (left) is congratulated by Murray after his win over the Scot on Kia Arena

From the start the match was dominated by long baseline rallies. Murray dropped serve in the opening game but broke back immediately and had one chance to move 4-2 ahead only for a lob to fall short.

It proved a costly error as, with Murray trying to extract life from the old balls on serve in the next game, Etcheverry broke again before clinching a 61-minute first set.

Murray’s serve was proving his main Achilles heel, with his first delivery unreliable and the second offering Etcheverry the chance to take control of the rallies.

The Argentinian, a quarter-finalist at the French Open last year, was also making fewer mistakes from the baseline and Murray’s resistance was broken again early in the second set.

Fans had queued around the block to try to get into Kia Arena but the atmosphere was muted as Murray stepped out for the third set, faced with trying to mount another epic comeback.

He did not get as down on himself as he has in recent matches and probed for a way into the contest but it was Etcheverry who broke serve again to lead 3-2, and the end swiftly followed.

This was his fourth defeat in a row for Murray dating back to October, while he has now lost seven of his last eight matches, the worst run of his career.

Murray vs Etcheverry: Tale of the Tape

Murray Match Stats Etcheverry
6 Aces 11
2 Double Faults 0
72% 1st serve win percentage 75%
33% 2nd serve win percentage 61%
12/19 Netpoints won 16/28
1/5 Break points won 6/14
21 Total winners 38
37 Unforced errors 19
67 Total points won 95

Tsitsipas produces shot from the gods in opening win

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after defeating Zizou Bergs from Belgium in their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)
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Stefanos Tsitsipas produced an extraordinary, balletic shot at a clutch moment in his opening match at the Australian Open to help him past lucky loser Zizou Bergs

Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas rallied from a set down to beat lucky loser Zizou Bergs 5-7 6-1 6-1 6-3 and move into the second round.

Bergs was a late replacement for the injured Matteo Berrettini, and Tsitsipas said the change of opponent had thrown him off his game early on.

Tsitsipas produced an extraordinary, balletic shot at a clutch moment having lost the opening set to world No 129 on Rod Laver Arena having grabbed a break point at the start of the second when his Belgian opponent sent the ball just over the net.

Tsitsipas raced in and reached over into the other side of the court to slap the ball off the ground towards the umpire and win the point, all the while somehow managing to avoid touching the net to avoid being penalised.

“That shot was extraordinary, I don’t even know how I got that shot,” Tsitsipas said.

“I thought for a split second when he hit that underspin volley ‘that’s it, I’ll have to prepare for the next point’.

“But I guess not wanting to give up and just giving it a try gave me the point that I believe turned around the match today.”

Also in the men’s draw, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka exited in the first round after losing 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-0 to Adrian Mannarino.

Medvedev troubled by the Melbourne heat

Daniil Medvedev of Russia signs autographs after his first round match against Terence Atmane of France at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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Daniil Medvedev was troubled by the Melbourne heat but benefited from the tearful retirement of opponent Terence Atmane

Third seed Russian Daniil Medvedev overcame sweltering heat to pick up a 5-7 6-2 6-4 1-0 victory by retirement over French qualifier Terence Atmane, who was left sobbing on his chair with head in hands.

“Here I think what is tough is that the conditions were not the toughest I have ever played in but since one week we didn’t really have hot days,” said Medvedev, who next faces Finn Emil Ruusuvuori.

“So here, first match for me, he’s not used to Grand Slams also yet, so a lot of nerves. The heat is there. So physically it’s not easy I think. It’s tough for everyone.

“I’m happy that I managed to be stronger physically because it was not easy at one moment. At this moment he started cramping. Just have to stay in there and I’m happy to go through.”

Terence Atmane of France reacts as he sits in his chair after retiring from his first round match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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Atmane sobbed on his chair with head in hands

Medvedev joked that the information he had gathered on opponent Atmane from players on the ATP Tour had proved inaccurate.

“He’s just coming to tour so I didn’t know much about him,” he said.

“Everyone told me he had a better forehand than backhand. But if you look at the stats, he missed like three backhands. Thanks guys.”

American Ben Shelton, who made a breakthrough run to the quarter-finals here last year, eased into round two with a 6-2 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut but there were defeats for former champion Stan Wawrinka and Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

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