Organisers make huge Andy Murray call ahead of Australian Open

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·Sports Reporter
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  • Andy Murray
    Andy Murray
    British professional tennis player from Scotland
Andy Murray will return to the Australian Open in 2022, several years after tearfully conceding his career may have been over thanks to injury. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH/APA/AFP via Getty Images)
Andy Murray will return to the Australian Open in 2022, several years after tearfully conceding his career may have been over thanks to injury. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH/APA/AFP via Getty Images)

Fan favourite Andy Murray has been granted a wildcard entry to the Australian Open, with the Scottish star to make his first appearance at Melbourne Park since his emotional last appearance in 2019.

Fate had conspired to prevent Murray from returning to the season opening grand slam, in which the 34-year-old has made the final five times.

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It seemed unlikely Australian fans would see Murray play in Melbourne after his last appearance in 2019, which he broke down following a gruelling five-set first round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut.

At that stage, Murray believed a mounting injury toll would spell the premature end of his career, tearfully conceding his time in the sport may have been up.

Luckily for fans that has proven not to be the case, with Murray impressively battling back from what was widely considered to be a potentially career-ending hip injury.

A tribute video for Murray was played before he left the court after that memorable last appearance at Melbourne Park in 2019 - but the Scot has defied injury to return once more.

He had been due to play in the 2021 Open, but was cruelly denied the opportunity to return after catching Covid-19 prior to his flight to Melbourne.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said it was a thrill to have Murray back on Australian soil.

"As a five-time finalist, Andy Murray has had so many memorable moments at the Australian Open," Tiley said on Thursday.

"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.

"His heroic exploits have made him a firm fan favourite here at Melbourne Park."

Andy Murray thrilled to return to Australian Open

Murray himself was also thrilled to be able to return to the tournament, and will be entering on an impressive recent turn of form.

"I'm really excited to be back playing at the Australian Open and grateful to Craig [Tiley] and the team for the opportunity," Murray 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."

Murray was runner-up for a first time in Melbourne to Roger Federer in 2010.

He has since lost further title deciders to Novak Djokovic in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Andy Murray has slowly climbed back to world No134, enough to earn a wildcard entry to the Australian Open in 2022. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Andy Murray has slowly climbed back to world No134, enough to earn a wildcard entry to the Australian Open in 2022. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Three of the great Scott's other eight Open defeats also came against Djokovic, Federer and fellow former world No.1 Rafael Nadal.

The dual Wimbledon champion and three-times major winner enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in 2021, claiming two top-10 scalps while compiling a respectable 15-14 win-loss record.

Murray also pushed then-world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas to five epic sets in his most recent grand slam, the US Open in August.

Currently ranked at No.134 in the world, Murray has shown glimpses of his form of old with recent wins over top 10 players Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner, as well as making the final of the recent Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

The Australian Open runs from January 17-30.

With AAP

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