Andy Murray news: Former world No 1 backs ‘problem-solver’ Scot to reach second week in Melbourne

Andy Murray in action

Andy Murray hasn’t gone past the third round of a Grand Slam since 2017, but Eurosport analyst Mats Wilander sees no reason why the three-time major winner can’t reach the second week of this year’s Australian Open.

Former world No 1 Murray was a regular feature in the second week of Grand Slams between 2008 and 2017, but a career-threatening hip injury forced him to miss the bulk of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.

He has nursed his way back to full fitness over the past 24 months after undergoing a hip replacement operation in 2019.

Playing at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2019 on Tuesday, the five-time Australian Open runner-up came through a marathon match against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili that lasted nearly four hours.

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Former world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander believes Murray now has the fitness to return to the latter stages of majors.

“Certainly the Australian Open and Wimbledon are the two Grand Slams where he has had his best success in my eyes, it’s where he will still have a chance to get to the second week,” he told Eurosport.

“And why not in Melbourne? These hard courts are playing very quick. Murray is best on the fast surfaces, always has been, so yes there’s a good chance he can make the second week of a Grand Slam over the next 12 months.

“He is one of the best problem-solvers I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. It doesn’t matter who he is playing, he’ll play them the right way.

“When Murray is at his best, it’s more about the process and tactically playing correct. He’s good at not getting ahead of himself, and he can mess with your head.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your ranking is, and especially these younger players who don’t have the experience, for them to play Murray is an absolute emotional nightmare.”

Following his 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 victory, Murray faces Taro Daniel in the second round and if he comes through that match he could face the impressive Jannik Sinner in the third round.

But Wilander knows a lot depends on how well the 34-year-old recovers.

“Andy Murray’s comeback is a big success to me. The fact he is back physically, being able to play for over four hours is incredible,” the Swede added.

“The fact he has had surgeries and he went down and he played in the lowest level of professional tennis to gain some match experience and some confidence – to then come back and play in front of thousands of people with the pressure that that brings and seem to enjoy it this way. The comeback is a huge success, it doesn’t matter where he ends up in the rankings.

“Andy’s next opponent, Taro Daniel, is a good tennis player, he is solid, but it is going to be up to Andy Murray’s physical recovery I believe because who knows how he is going to recover.

“I am sure he is going to do everything he can. Emotionally, I am sure he will be charged up for this match, but suddenly the tables are turned and he is the favourite and he has to pressure him because he has the chance to get to the third round of a Grand Slam – this is a massive match for Andy Murray.”