Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper
Murray's talent undimmed, but fitness factor clouds Open return
Former world number one Andy Murray's ranking dropped as low as 839 during 2018 as he played only six tournaments, with the Scot arriving in Melbourne looking to prove he can compete again at the top level.
The three-time major winner and double Olympic champion pulled out of last year's Australian Open to have hip surgery and only returned in June on grass at Queen's Club in London and then played on the same surface at Eastbourne.
He sat out Wimbledon in July and made just four more tournament appearances, including a Grand Slam return at the US Open, before ending his season after Shenzhen in September to concentrate on working his way back to full fitness.
Despite his truncated season Murray showed glimpses of his best - most notably in his third comeback event at Washington in August.
Murray won three gruelling three-set matches in his first hard-court event after surgery to reach the quarter-finals, including an impressive victory against British number one Kyle Edmund who was a semi-finalist in Melbourne a year ago.
Murray's fierce will to win was amply demonstrated as he survived a final-set tie-break in a last-16 epic against Marius Copil that ended at 3:02 am with the Scot bursting into tears.
In his final event of 2018 in Shenzhen, Murray showed his talent was undimmed - recording his first comeback victory over a top 10 player against David Goffin before closing down his season to finish with a year-end ranking of 240. He enters the Australian Open at 230.