Andy Murray waves as he leaves the court following his first round loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, right, at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, on Monday, January 14, 2019. Image Credit:

Melbourne: Andy Murray’s hopes of a fairytale swansong at the Australian Open were crushed in the first round on Monday as Roberto Bautista Agut held off a thrilling fightback from the ailing Briton to claim a 6-4 6-4 6-7(5) 6-7(4) 6-2 epic.

Murray, who said he will retire this season because of chronic hip pain, seemed down and out at two sets and a break down to the 22nd seeded Spaniard but somehow fought back to force a fifth set at Melbourne Arena. His participation at the Wimbledon, where Murray is a two-time champion, is also under a cloud at the moment.

Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut
Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut (R) shakes hands as he celebrates after victory over Britain's Andy Murray during their first round men's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Though locked in a losing battle with his troublesome right hip, the former world number one whipped the Melbourne Arena crowd into a frenzy as he battled back from two sets down to push the match into a fifth.

“I’ve loved playing here over the years. It’s an amazing place to play tennis. If this was my last match then an amazing way to end. I gave everything I had. It wasn’t enough tonight,” said a tearful Murray as the giant TV screen on the court displayed a sequence of tributes to the Scotman from the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokoic and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thanks again. Thanks to everyone for all of the support - my team, my family, and everyone who has contributed to my career.

“Maybe I’ll see you again. I’ll do everything possible to try.

“If I want to go again, I’ll need to have a big operation, which there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to come back from anyway, but I’ll give it my best shot,” he said.

“I’ve been very fortunate and unlucky, I guess, to compete in an era with some of the guys that have been around. Roger, Rafa, Novak have been difficult opponents but I have a lot of respect for them,” he added.