Andy Murray handed Australian Open main draw wildcard with Brit hailed by tournament chief

Andy Murray says Australian Open could be last tournament

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Andy Murray has been awarded a wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open. A five-time finalist in Melbourne, the former world No 1 has not played the event since 2019, when he announced that he would likely be playing his last tournament and retiring over his hip injury. The three-time Grand Slam champion has since made a comeback from a hip resurfacing surgery he underwent shortly after, and now goes into 2022 full of confidence following a successful end to the season.

Murray has been granted a wildcard into the main draw of the Australian Open, which kicks off on January 17.

It will be his first showing at the season-opening Major since 2019, when he broke down in a press conference and admitted it could be his last tournament, following two years of struggle with a hip injury.

After losing a thrilling five-setter to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round – a match that sounded like it was the last of his career – Murray underwent a hip resurfacing surgery just weeks later, having a metal joint put into his hip.

The former world No 1 then returned in doubles at Queens Club in June of that year and won the title alongside Feliciano Lopez, later winning his first post-op singles title at the European Open in October 2019.

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Murray was then unable to compete in the 2020 edition of the event known as the ‘Happy Slam’ due to a pelvic injury, and missed the tournament again in 2021 after testing positive for Covid and being unable to find a “workable” quarantine.

He will finally make his long-awaited return to the site of his premature retirement next month, after being given a wildcard into the main draw.

Currently ranked at world No 134, the Brit would have needed multiple players ranked above him to withdrew before gaining entry himself.

Following the news of his wildcard, the five-time runner-up thanked tournament director Craig Tiley and the organisers.

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“I’m really excited to be back playing at the Australian Open and grateful to Craig and the team for the opportunity,” he said.

“I’ve had some great times in Australia playing in front of the amazing crowds and I can’t wait to step back out on court at Melbourne Park.”

Meanwhile, tournament director and Tennis Australia boss Tiley praised the 34-year-old as he announced Murray’s main draw wildcard.

Speaking on Thursday, the Aussie Open chief said: “As a five-time finalist, Andy Murray has had so many memorable moments at the Australian Open.

“He’s renowned for his fighting spirit, passion and love of the game and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Melbourne in January.”

Murray will go into the Australian Open full of confidence after a positive end to 2021.

Now ranked at world No 134, he made two quarter-finals and scored two top-ten wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner during the last few weeks of the season.

The former world No 1 also competed in last week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition where he beat countryman and world No 25 Dan Evans in his first match.

He then scored a spot in the final following a 6-3 7-5 victory over old rival and 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal, who was playing the first match of his injury comeback, before losing the final to world No 5 Andrey Rublev.

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