Andy Murray failed to complete a practice match against Novak Djokovic in a setback to his Australian Open preparations.
The former world number one is playing at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2017 and a year on from hip surgery, but looked laboured taking on his long-time rival under match conditions on Margaret Court Arena.
Trailing 6-1, 4-1 and having held serve only once, Murray shook hands with Djokovic and his team to bring an end to the contest.
The pair have met four times in finals at Melbourne Park, with Djokovic winning them all, but those memories made this all the more dispiriting.
Having played only six tournaments in 2018 and spent large chunks of time focusing on rehabilitation and reconditioning, Murray had hoped to be in better shape for the new season.
He admitted on arrival in Australia that he was still feeling pain, but tried to be cautiously optimistic despite losing in the second round of the Brisbane International to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
There was very little to be positive about against Djokovic, however. Murray lost his first service game to love and failed to hold serve at all in the opening set, breaking Djokovic once at 3-0.
The Serbian was not even playing at full intensity, but Murray’s movement around the baseline was simply nowhere near good enough to enable him to go toe-to-toe in rallies like he used to.
The limp that has dogged him for 18 months became more pronounced during the second set, with the Scot grimacing at times.
He finally held serve for the first time at 0-3, but, after losing the next game, shook hands with Djokovic before sitting in animated discussion with his team for several minutes at the side of the court.
The performance raised question marks about whether Murray will even begin the tournament, with the draw taking place on Thursday evening.
Despite the poor performance, one tennis fan could not believe how close she got to watching Andy Murray in the flesh, and her Instagram post about the Scot got all the more interesting when he himself dropped a comment on it.
Murray saw the post and commented: “I'm sorry I couldn't be more entertaining today - thanks for the support.”
That wasn't all, however. He then went one better by dropping yet another comment asking if she wanted tickets to his first game at the Australian Open.
He said: "If you'd like to come along to watch my match on Monday or Tuesday, I'll sort you out a ticket."News Now - Sport News