BRISBANE: Andy Murray’s latest comeback from a persistent hip issue ended prematurely on Wednesday when he was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Brisbane International.
Murray cut short his season last September after suffering pain in his hip following surgery earlier in the year that ruled him out of three of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The 31-year-old had defeated local hope James Duckworth in his season opener on Tuesday but was comprehensively beaten by fourth seed Medvedev who fired 16 aces and lost only seven of his first-service points in the contest.
“I think he served extremely well, I didn’t really get many chances on his service games,” Murray, who won the tournament in both of his previous appearances in 2012 and 2013, said.
“And then on my own service games I made too many errors in the rallies, especially early on I was trying to play a little bit more offensive. In the second set, I made too many mistakes.”
Medvedev will meet Canada’s Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals. The huge-serving Raonic fired down 21 aces in his 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) win over Serbian qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic to go with the 18 he served in the first round.
Defending women’s champion Elina Svitolina also went out in the second round, losing to Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 in the last match of the day.
Sasnovich booked a quarter-final against Croatian Donna Vekic, who downed Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens in three sets 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-5.
The tournament lost another big name when Rafa Nadal pulled out due to a thigh strain, casting doubt on his participation in this month’s Australian Open.
The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh.
Nadal said he’d head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney for a Fast4 event to prepare for the Australian Open.
Jeremy Chardy rallied to beat holder Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 to leave Alex De Minaur as the sole Australian man remaining in the draw after the 19-year-old beat Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-2.
Grigor Dimitrov downed local favourite John Millman 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final with Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who eased past American Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-2. Third-seeded Kyle Edmund lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
In the women’s competition, unseeded Anett Kontaveit upset double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (7-1).
Former champion Karolina Pliskova outclassed Marie Bouzkova 7-5, 6-2 to set up a clash with Ajla Tomljanovic who ended the run of Briton Johanna Konta winning 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).
Latvian Anastasija Sevastova earlier thrashed British qualifier Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2019