Andy Murray made no excuses as he crashed out of the tournament
Andy Murray offered no excuses following his shock four-sets loss to German underdog Mischa Zverev in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
With Novak Djokovic out of the tournament, the world number one was bidding to win his maiden Australian Open title after previously settling for runner-up on five previous occasions.
His run was ended by 29-year-old Zverev, a player who had previously never gone beyond the third round at a grand slam tournament before this year. Zverev’s serve and volley tactic was one that wowed both Murray and the crowd in Melbourne. Throughout the match he came to the net 118 times, almost three times more than Murray.
“Just wasn't meant to be,” said Murray after his loss. “He served very well when he needed to, especially when he was behind in games. “He deserved to win because he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments.”
Zverev’s achievement comes less than three years after he considered quitting the sport. Throughout his career, the German has been dodged by numerous injury issues. Some of his past woes include wrist surgery, two fractured ribs, a herniated disc in his back and a torn knee tendon. At his low-point, Zverev dropped outside the top 1000.
"He came up with great shots and played a really good match. You always finish matches you lose with things you maybe could have done a bit better, but he played some really good stuff." Murray said about his conqueror.
Failing to reach the last eight in Melbourne for the first time since 2009, Murray’s latest loss is one that gives him food for thought. Playing the German, he still managed to produce 10 aces, 71 winners and only 28 unforced errors. The trio of stats is one that excelled his opponent's, but he failed to capitalise on the key moments, converting only three out of 13 break points.
Trying to establish if this is merely a shock loss or something more significant is a tricky task. Since the end of the US Open, Murray has won five consecutive tournaments, including the ATP World Tour Finals, and dethroned Djokovic from the top of the rankings. This year he started his season with a run to the final in the Doha Open.
Image: Dita Alangkara AP/Press Association Images
“I was full of confidence coming into the beginning of this year. I prepared as best as I could,” the Brit said. “But maybe I have to have a look back and assess some things and see maybe if there's some stuff I could have done differently, or did my opponent just play a great match? Sometimes that can happen as well.”
Suffering his worst defeat (in terms of rankings) since succumbing to world No.51 Juan Ignacio Chela at the 2006 Australian Open, Murray has hit back at critics of his latest performance. Some insinuated that he was lacking both intensity and energy, a curious analysis for a player who had reached the fourth round without dropping a set. Responding to this theory, Murray swiftly dismissed the speculation.
“I don't think I was today. I was getting myself pumped up. Sometimes at the end of the sets I was trying to get a little more energy, show more sort of positive body language. And I did that at the end of the match, at the end of the first and second sets. It just wasn't to be today.”
With both Murray and Djokovic out of the men’s draw, it is the first time that the top two seeded players have failed to reach the quarter-finals at a grand slam since the 2004 French Open.
As Murray ponders about what to do next, Zverev continues to relish in the spotlight, a well deserved scenario for that a player that has experienced so much turmoil in recent years.