Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open

Murray, 32, won his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Monday, beating Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero in three sets. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 October 2019

Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open

  • The British three-time major winner has been slowly working his way back to fitness and is now ranked 289th, up from 503rd just a week ago
  • Murray broke down in tears describing how the pain in his right hip, which had been operated on six months earlier, had become unbearable

MELBOURNE: Andy Murray will make his Grand Slam return at the Australian Open in January, a year after career-saving hip surgery, tournament organizers announced Tuesday.

The British three-time major winner has been slowly working his way back to fitness and is now ranked 289th, up from 503rd just a week ago.

Murray, 32, won his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Monday, beating Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero in three sets, following a quarter-final appearance in Beijing last week.

With his confidence seemingly growing by the day, Australian Open organizers said the former world number one had committed to extending his comeback into the majors in January.

“Confirmed: Andy Murray will return to compete at the #AusOpen in 2020,” they tweeted. The official Australian Open website said Murray “will return to the main draw with a protected ranking of number two and restored physical powers.”

He has made the final five times at Melbourne Park, losing four times to Novak Djokovic and once to Roger Federer.
However, arguably his most heartbreaking moment at the season-opening Grand Slam came not on the court but at an emotional press conference before this year’s tournament.

Murray broke down in tears describing how the pain in his right hip, which had been operated on six months earlier, had become unbearable.

“I can play with limitations. But having the limitations and the pain is not allowing me to enjoy competing or training,” he said, later revealing that even walking his dog had become a gruelling ordeal.

Tributes flowed for the well-liked Scot, with Billie Jean King called him “a champion on and off court.” Players also farewelled him in an emotional video screened on center court after he lost an epic five-setter to Roberto Bautista Agut, with most believing his Grand Slam career was over.

“It’s very sad that you have to take that position, but sometimes life is not perfect,” Rafael Nadal said. “I just want to say thanks for the things that you gave to our sport.”

But the match against Bautista Agut rekindled Murray’s competitive spark and he opted to fight on and undergo hip resurfacing surgery.

American doubles legend Bob Bryan had endured the procedure — which involves inserting an artificial hip implant with a rod that goes right down to the femur — and warned Murray there would be no easy road back.

“No one’s ever come back with this surgery on the singles court,” he said at the time, adding that if anyone could do it a renowned fighter like Murray was prime candidate.

Murray said after his win over Londero that his movement on the court felt like it was steadily improving. “In the beginning I didn’t necessarily feel good, but last couple of weeks have been I think much improved,” he said.

In 2013, Murray became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, ending the nation’s obsession with finding a champion to follow in the footsteps of Fred Perry.

He repeated the feat in 2016, adding to a glittering career that also includes the 2012 US Open, two Olympic gold medals and 45 ATP crowns.

Australian Open organizers hope there will be another blast from the past if Belgium’s Kim Clijsters can meet her goal of taking to the court again in January after an absence of more than seven years.

A crowd favorite in Melbourne, the 36-year-old retired to have a family but made a surprise announcement last month that she was making a comeback in 2020.

Clijsters has won four Grand Slams, including the 2011 Australian Open.


Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

Updated 23 October 2019

Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

  • Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals

PARIS: Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe both scored second-half hat-tricks in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday as Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur all recorded big victories.
Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich labored to wins on a night which brought 30 goals in eight games, a third of which were scored by Premier League clubs.
Sterling’s three goals came 11 minutes apart in the second half as Pep Guardiola’s City thumped Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium to maintain their perfect record in Group C.
The Italians had earlier taken the lead from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s 28th-minute penalty, but they were soon overrun and remain without a point in their debut Champions League campaign.
Sergio Aguero equalized from a Sterling assist and the Argentine scored a penalty to put City ahead before the break. Sterling then took over, although City finished with 10 men as Phil Foden was sent off late on.
“I should have had four. Riyad Mahrez put me through and I was looking to put one on a plate for him. But I went through and should have finished it,” Sterling admitted to BT Sport.
City’s will seal a place in the last 16 if they win away to Atalanta next, as nearest rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb played out a 2-2 draw in Ukraine earlier.
Yevhen Konoplyanka and Brazilian substitute Dodo netted for Shakhtar, with Dinamo’s goals coming in between from Dani Olmo and a Mislav Orsic penalty.
Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals in PSG’s 5-0 romp away to former European Cup runners-up Club Brugge in Belgium in Group A.
Mauro Icardi scored twice for the French champions, who were without the injured Neymar but had Angel Di Maria in exceptional form — the Argentine set up four goals.
According to sports statisticians Opta, the last player to come off the bench and score a hat-trick in the Champions League was Spaniard Joseba Llorente for Villarreal in 2008.
“I wanted to start and I thought I was going to start, but the coach made his choice and I had to accept it. I also wanted to show that it’s difficult to get by without me,” Mbappe told French broadcaster RMC Sport.
PSG have a maximum nine points, are yet to concede a goal in Europe this season and will be through to the last 16 with a win at home to Club next month.
Below them, Real Madrid are up to second after claiming their first win in Europe this season. Eden Hazard set up Toni Kroos for a first-half strike that handed them a 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, there was a welcome win for Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, who crushed Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in north London, three weeks on from their 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the same venue.
Captain Harry Kane scored twice for Spurs either side of a Son Heung-min brace and an Erik Lamela goal as they moved up to second place in Group B on four points.
“We know we have had a tough run of results and that was the perfect way to respond,” said Kane.
They remain five points behind group leaders Bayern Munich, for whom Robert Lewandowski bagged two in a 3-2 win at Olympiakos that maintained their perfect record.
The Pole has 18 goals this season and 58 career Champions League goals — only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Raul and Karim Benzema have more.
Youssef El Arabi gave Olympiakos the lead, but Lewandowski’s brace either side of half-time changed the game and Corentin Tolisso fired in a magnificent third before Guilherme pulled one back.
In Turin, Juventus needed a late Paulo Dybala pair to come from behind and beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in Group D.
Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russians the lead on the half-hour and it took a stunning strike by Dybala to bring the Italian champions back level with 13 minutes left.
Moments later the same player scored from the follow-up after Alex Sandro’s shot was saved.
Juve are level atop Group D on seven points with Atletico Madrid, who edged out Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 thanks to Alvaro Morata’s 78th-minute header.