Australian Open

Motivated Murray marks Melbourne return with win

Andy Murray

Driven: Andy Murray

Andy Murray marked his return to the Australian Open with a trademark gutsy victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili in Melbourne.

The Scot, handed a wild card for the tournament, defeated the 21st seed 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 to reach the second round, where he will face Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel.

It was the Scot’s first victory at the tournament since 2017 and came three years on from his announcement that he planned to retire due to ongoing problems with a hip injury.

“It has been a tough three, four years,” said the 34-year-old after his nail-biting win over the Georgian on the John Cain Arena.

“I have put a lot of work to be back here and I have played on this court many times and the atmosphere has been incredible.

“I have always had fantastic support and this is the court I thought I potentially played my last match on. But it is good to be back, winning a five-set battle like that. I could not ask for any more.”

Murray has made the final five times in Melbourne and added: “I would like to have a deep run, it’s something I’ve not had in one of the Slams since I came back from the injury and it’s something that motivates me.

“I’ve played some of my best tennis here over the years, I feel comfortable here and I hope I can do it this tournament.

“I want to keep obviously improving, I think there’s things in my game I can definitely do better.”

Raducanu ‘inspired by Murray’

There was further good news for British tennis fans with Emma Raducanu defeating Sloane Stephens in her first Grand Slam since winning the US Open last year.

The 19-year-old, seeded No. 17 at Melbourne Park, took the first-round match 6-0 2-6 6-1 against Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion.

Afterwards the young Brit said Andy Murray was the inspiration behind her first round fightback.

Raducanu said she drew new reserves from an afternoon partly spent watching Murray triumph against Basilashvili.

“I’d been watching Andy and that came back to me in the third set,” she said. “‘I actually thought to myself: “Andy was up a set and then he got pushed to five, but he fought back so hard in the fifth that he took the decider.

“So when I went to three, I was also thinking “I can do that.” You know, fight like he did. So I was definitely inspired by him.”

Raducanu will now take on Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the second round.

Dan Evans defeated Belgium’s David Goffin in straight sets, while Heather Watson was too good for Egypt’s Mayar Sherif.

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