You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Andy Murray crashes out of Australian Open to inspired Mischa Zverev

The Guardian logo The Guardian 22-01-2017 Kevin Mitchell at Melbourne Park
The world No1 and top seed Andy Murray was left frustrated by an inspired performance from the German Mischa Zverev. © EPA The world No1 and top seed Andy Murray was left frustrated by an inspired performance from the German Mischa Zverev.

Andy Murray, out of sorts and scrapping like a junkyard dog for three-and-a-half hours over four sets, could not hold off the magnificent challenge of Mischa Zverev, the world No50, and went out of the Australian Open on day seven, when he surely harboured hopes of cashing in on the earlier departure of Novak Djokovic.

The last time the top two seeds failed to reach the quarter-finals of a slam was at Roland Garros in 2004. Denis Istomin, the world No 117, played the game of his life to put six-time champion Djokovic out in the second round; Zverev, best known as the older brother of 19-year-old prodigy, Alex – who lost a close match to Rafael Nadal on Saturday - finds himself in the quarter-final of a slam for the first time at 29, after beating a player he described beforehand as the best in the world.

“Honestly I don’t know how I did it,” Zverev said courtside after winning 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in front of a packed and raucous Rod Laver Arena crowd on Sunday afternoon with attacking tennis of the highest order.

“I just serve and volleyed the whole way to pull it off. Somehow I made it. I got excited [at the end], but the crowd is here, how can you not stay focused? It was kind of easy to stay aggressive but definitely tough to stay calm. It means the world to me, and to have my whole family here, it’s just amazing. Everything is new to me, everything is a little bit unreal, like a dream to me.

“My brother inspires me all the time. He challenges me to do better all the time. He’s still ranked higher than me, so he gets to walk in the door first at home.”

Murray was outright favourite after Djokovic’s departure but, try as he might, he could not break his opponent down. The only time they had played each other he beat him for the loss of four games on his winning the boys title at Flushing Meadows in 2004.

They are the same age but separated by galaxies in achievement and stature.

Zverev was honest enough to say before the match, “[The result] will depend on Andy. If he plays his best tennis, I don’t think I have a lot of chances. Let’s see if I can annoy him a little bit. If I’m serving well and I’m not missing any volleys, maybe I can do some damage. Honestly, he’s the best player in the world.”

Not on Sunday, he wasn’t.

It was a match that did not digress much from the script once the tone had been set in the early stages. Murray’s normally impeccable defence let him down under pressure and his serving was not near the heights he had hit earlier in the week. Zverev took points on 27 of 40 of Murray’s second serves, and that was the building block of his success. The German also was ferocious and controlled at the net winning the point 55 times in 99 visits.

Murray, more philosophical than devastated, said later, “he came up with some great pick-ups, especially reflex volleys at the end of the match. It was tough because I was playing some good shots, but it wasn’t meant to be. He deserved to win, he played great when he was down ad also in the important moments. I couldn’t convert my opportunities.

“In the last game I also came up with some great returns. I definitely could have served better a couple of sets. I don’t think I was flat. I was getting myself pumped up, trying to get myself a bit more energy, positive body language at the end of the match.

“I had some opportunities in the last two service games, maybe missed a couple of balls. He came back from all of the mistakes he made, kept coming up with great shots. Not too much you can do about that. It was a tough one to lose. Obviously I wanted to go far in this event. I’m disappointed right now but credit to him. He played a really good match.”

More from The Guardian

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon