Australian Open: Murray Loses in Straight Sets to Daniel

0

The hurt from disappointing defeats “does not get any easier” said Andy Murray after a subdued display against Japan’s Taro Daniel saw him knocked out of the Australian Open in round two.

Britain’s Murray lost 6-4 6-4 6-4 to qualifier Daniel – ranked below him at 120 in the world – on John Cain Arena.

It was a far cry from the 34-year-old’s performance in Tuesday’s victory over 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

“When you know you’ve not got many years left it is frustrating,” he said.

“I put a lot into the off-season for practising and preparing, hopefully to not play like that in the big tournaments.

“So it is especially disappointing when you perform like that.”

Former world number one Murray, now ranked 113th, had never previously lost a Grand Slam match to an opponent ranked as low as Daniel.

For 28-year-old Daniel, victory meant he reached the third round of a major for the first time in his career.

Murray shot a disconsolate look towards his box after Daniel clinched victory with a crisp backhand volley on his first match point.

The three-time Grand Slam champion walked off court shaking his head before giving a quick thumbs up to a crowd glad to see him back at Melbourne Park and appreciative of his efforts.

Murray’s exit was soon followed by defeat for Emma Raducanu, meaning Dan Evans is the final Briton left in the singles.

The point Murray has fought back to borders on a miracle, resurrecting his career after a hip surgery that he initially feared would bring his playing days to an end.

The victory against Georgia’s Basilashvili was particularly poignant as it came on the same Melbourne court where, in 2019, he thought he might have played his final match.

Since then, the former Wimbledon and US Open champion has returned to the sport with a metal hip and even won an ATP title.

Last week Murray was denied another trophy, losing in the Sydney final, and came to Melbourne with the target of making a deeper run in a Grand Slam tournament.

At face value, Daniel appeared to be someone of the ranking and pedigree that Murray should be able to beat.

But in reality, he faced a sharp opponent brimming with confidence after coming through qualifying and the first round without dropping a set.

“After a good win in the first round I created an opportunity for myself. It was probably a match I should win and I didn’t take that chance,” Murray told BBC Sport.

“I was not able to sustain a good enough level for long enough, whereas he was solid throughout.