Five times beaten finalist Andy Murray has been given a tough draw in the Australian Open after he was handed an opening round tie against the 22nd seed, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Watch & bet on Andy Murray v Roberto Bautista Agut live in the Australian Open with bet365 here* on Monday, January 14. The Murray v Bautista Agut match will be played from around 6 pm local time (8 am BST).
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Murray’s Rough Battle with Injury
Murray returns to Melbourne having missed the 2018 tournament following hip surgery, short of form and fitness. The former world number one, who is now ranked a lowly 230, has only played 12 matches in the past year, and is still battling the hip problem that now means Murray has decided to retire from the sport this year.
Question is whether he can push on after the Australian Open as well and get a swansong at his favourite Wimbledon later this year.
He entered the Brisbane International at the start of the year but, after defeating James Duckworth in the first round, was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in round two, admitting at the same time that he did not know how much time he had left at the top of tennis.
On Thursday he played a practice match ahead of the Australian Open with Novak Djokovic, but could only claim two games from the top seed when the match was brought to a premature end, with Murray clearly struggling.
Bautista Agut – A Man in Form
By contrast, Bautista Agut comes into the match in arguably some of the best form of his life.
This was after he just won the 2019 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, beating Novak Djokovic in the semi-final, and then triumphing over Czech Tomas Berdych in the final.
As he proved in Doha, hard courts suit his game, and having reached the fourth round in Melbourne on three previous occasions, he will be looking to emulate or better that feat this time round. This keeps getting tougher for Murray.
Andy Murray v Roberto Bautista Agut – Who will Win?
The pair have met three times before, with the Scot winning on all three occasions, most recently at the Shanghai Masters in 2016. In fact, Bautista Agut has yet to win a set off Murray.
Unfortunately for British fans, those victories all occurred before Murray’s injury problems, and the pair are now on very different trajectories. It is hard to see beyond a Bautista Agut win, perhaps in straight sets.
You can watch & bet on Andy Murray v Roberto Bautista Agut live in the Australian Open with bet365 here on Monday, January 14.