Andy Murray’s first round opponent is Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Andy Murray’s first round opponent is Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

There’s a prospect, mightily painful for both player and his adoring fans, that Monday could be the last time Andy Murray competes on a tennis court.

On Friday in Melbourne, the five-time Australian Open runner up fought back the tears as he announced his looming retirement at some stage in 2019 owing to a debilitating hip condition.

So expect an almighty response from the Melbourne Park crowd when Murray takes on 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Open’s first round. Just don’t expect a performance worthy of Murray’s stature.

“I know I’ve got no chance of winning this tournament and most likely I’m going to lose in the first round,” Murray told journalists.

ALL THE ACTION FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 1

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Wozniacki thanked the outspoken Murray for his advocacy.

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“I’m sad on behalf of Andy because Andy is so fun for me to watch. I think he’s entertaining. He’s such a great athlete. He stood up for us, too. I really appreciate what he’s done for women’s tennis,” she said.

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If he’s to continue on in Melbourne beyond Monday, he’ll need to produce a major upset.

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Bautista Agut defeated Novak Djokovic en route to the Doha title last week and is a sharp favourite for the match, to be played on Melbourne Arena no earlier than 6pm.

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– AAP

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Ash Barty’s 2019 Australian Open campaign has gotten off to the best start possible, with the 15th seed taking the first set against Luksika Kumkhum.

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Barty claimed the first set 6-2. Follow it live!

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ALL THE ACTION FROM AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 1

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THE DJOKER-LED ‘WAR’ SET TO DRIVE MEN’S TENNIS INTO CRISIS

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Roger Federer’s “only chance” of winning a Grand Slam will come at the Australian Open, says three-time champion Mats Wilander.

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Speaking to The Express, Wilander suggested the 37-year-old champion would only be able to add to his tally of 20 majors at Melbourne Park.

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“I think it is his only chance of winning a Major these days,” Eurosport’s Tennis Expert said when asked about Federer’s hopes.

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“I think Perth was a quick court and the Australian Open has been the quickest court throughout the whole season for the last couple of years.”

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Federer will be looking to go back-to-back-to-back in 2019 and begins his title defence at the Australian Open against Denis Istomin, who famously upset Novak Djokovic in 2017.

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Earlier there was good news for Barty as she now cannot face a seeded opponent until the fourth round, with No.22 Jelena Ostapenko losing to Greece’s Maria Sakkari. Sakkari will play Aussie Astra Sharma on Wednesday.

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Also featuring in Monday’s night session are defending women’s champion Caroline Wozniacki, who plays before Federer on Rod Laver Arena, while Aussie Bernard Tomic faces a tough test against 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic in the second match on Margaret Court Arena.

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A buoyant Federer revealed he had enjoyed a successful break coming into the 2019 season.

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“Throughout my career, I’ve been very lucky that in the off-seasons I never had any setbacks,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

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“What I can say is the off-season was great for me. I think maybe it showed a little bit at the Hopman Cup already. Again, look, I’m playing tomorrow. We’ll see how it’s going to be here in Melbourne.”

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Federer’s first-round opponent Istomin caused a massive upset in Melbourne two years ago when he knocked out defending champion Novak Djokovic in the second round, outlasting the Serb over five sets.

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“I think the focus really is on those early rounds, especially tomorrow,” said Federer, whose victory against Marin Cilic in last year’s final was his 20th Grand Slam title.

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“I know what Denis did to Novak. I watched basically the entire game a couple years ago when he beat Novak here.

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“I’ve had some tough ones against him in the past. He can play well in fast courts, and that’s what it’s going to be a little bit here as well,” added the world number three, who has won all six previous encounters against Istomin.

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Federer has skipped the European clay court season in recent years as he tries to manage his workload to extend a remarkable career, which shows no signs of slowing.

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He said he hadn’t made a decision on whether to play on clay this year and wasn’t sure why he had not suffered major injuries like Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray, who will retire this year with chronic hip pain despite being six years younger than Federer.

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“I think you also need a little bit of luck. Maybe also the way I play tennis, maybe it’s smoother than the other guys,” said Federer, renowned for his flowing movement around the court.

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“It just maybe looks that way. I work extremely hard in the matches as well. It just maybe doesn’t come across so much.”

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Australian Matt Ebden faces the tough proposition of Rafael Nadal in the second round.

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Ebden came back from a set down to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

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But now the Aussie must back up his performance against the Spaniard, who ousted James Duckworth in straight sets.

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NIGHT 1 ORDER OF PLAY

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Rod Laver Arena (from 7pm)

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Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) v 3-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

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Denis Istomin (UZB) v 3-Roger Federer (SUI)

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Margaret Court Arena (from 7pm)

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15-Ashleigh Barty (AUS) v Luksika Kumkhum (THA)

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6-Marin Cilic (CRO) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)

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Melbourne Arena (from 6pm)

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22-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Andy Murray (GBR)

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8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)

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1573 Arena (from 5pm)

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Matthew Ebden (AUS) def Jan-Lennard Struff (GER), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 ,6-4

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If you can’t see the blog, tap here.

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– with AFP

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It has been a solid day one for the Aussies with one pushing Rafael Nadal, three local women advancing and our top-ranked man Alex de Minaur now joining them.

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Nadal downed James Duckworth in straight sets on Rod Laver Arena, 6-4 6-3 7-5, showing no signs of the injuries that ruined his lead-up to the season’s first grand slam. Duckworth did produce some late fight in the third set, breaking when down 3-5.

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Top-ranked Aussie man Alex de Minaur also went through in straight sets, defeating Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 6-4 7-5 6-4 less than 48 hours after his Sydney International title win.

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Jordan Thompson also progressed to the second round, defeating Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.

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‘THEY HAVE TO COME TO ME’: RAFA’S SWIPE AT DJOKER AS UGLY WAR LOOMS

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AUS OPEN BLUNDER AS HISTORIC FIRST TURNS INTO CONFUSION

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THE DJOKER-LED ‘WAR’ SET TO DRIVE MEN’S TENNIS INTO CRISIS

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AUS OPEN CONFIDENTIAL: MURRAY’S CHEEKY WHACK FOR KYRGIOS

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Meanwhile a 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist is in major danger of a first round exit, with British 13th seed Kyle Edmund down two sets to veteran Tomas Berdych, 3-6 0-6.

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Three Aussie women are through to the second round already, with Kimberly Birrell defeating Paula Badosa Gibert 6-4 6-2 and fellow wildcard Zoe Hives stunning American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-1 6-2.

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Meanwhile Astra Sharma downed compatriot Priscilla Hon 7-5 4-6 6-1. A potential third-round clash between Sharma and Aussie women’s no.1 Ash Barty was made more likely when No.22 seed Jelena Ostapenko, Sharma’s potential next opponent, lost her first round match to Maria Sakkari.

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Ostapenko, a former French Open champion, was one of a number of seeds to fall on Monday, the biggest (literally) of which was No.9 John Isner.

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At 6’10”, it’s not often the American is the shortest man in a match, but he fell to 7-foot tall compatriot Reilly Opelka in four consecutive tiebreaks – 7-6(4) 7-6(6) 6-7(4) 7-6(5).

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Earlier on centre court, 2008 champion Maria Sharapova decided she wanted to avoid as much of the mid-30 degree heat as possible.

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Sharapova delivered a rare grand slam double bagel to young Brit Harriet Dart, winning 6-0 6-0 in the first match on Rod Laver Arena. Dart left the court in tears, although she will receive $75,000 for her first round loss.

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There was an early testy moment as Sharapova was cited for taking too long to commence her serve, then questioning the chair umpire about the decision.

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The commentators then brought up that not only was Sharapova taking her time while serving, she was also getting Dart to wait for her to be ready to return.

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“You’re not meant to do that – you’re meant to play to the server’s speed,” commentator John Fitzgerald said.

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In the second round Sharapova will face Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.

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The first tiebreaker under the new match-ending format has been run and won, with Britain’s Katie Boulter defeating Ekaterina Makarova in the first-to-ten conclusion to their match. She won 6-0 4-6 7-6(6).

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Boulter will face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who won her first ever main draw match at the Australian Open, defeating Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-1 6-4. Despite her lack of track record in Melbourne, Sabalenka is seeded 11th and is the third-favourite to win the whole tournament in betting markets.

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Fifth seed Kevin Anderson avoided a scare, dropping a set but eventually prevailing against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1.

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Women’s No.2 seed Angelique Kerber moved through to the second round in straight sets, defeating Polona Hercog 6-2 6-2.

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Australia’s top-ranked woman is in action later tonight, with No. 15 seed Ash Barty battling Luksika Kumkhum from 7pm.

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ORDER OF PLAY (All courts from 11am AEDT unless stated)

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Rod Laver Arena

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30-Maria Sharapova (RUS) def Harriet Dart (GBR), 6-0 6-0

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2-Rafael Nadal (ESP) def James Duckworth (AUS), 6-4 6-3 7-5

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2-Angelique Kerber (GER) def Polona Hercog (SLO), 6-2 6-2

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From 7pm

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Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) v 3-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

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Denis Istomin (UZB) v 3-Roger Federer (SUI)

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Margaret Court Arena

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Danielle Collins (USA) def 14-Julia Georges (GER), 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4

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5-Sloane Stephens (USA) def Taylor Townsend (USA), 6-4 6-2

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27-Alex de Minaur (AUS) def Pedro Sousa (POR), 6-4 7-5 6-4

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From 7pm

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15-Ashleigh Barty (AUS) v Luksika Kumkhum (THA)

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6-Marin Cilic (CRO) v Bernard Tomic (AUS)

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Melbourne Arena

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5-Kevin Anderson (RSA) def Adrian Mannarino (FRA), 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1

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Maria Sakkari (GRE) def 22-Jelena Ostapenko (LAT), 6-1 3-6 6-2

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Tomas Berdych (CZE) def 13-Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-3, 6-0, 7-5

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Not before 6pm

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22-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) v Andy Murray (GBR)

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Not before 7pm

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8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)

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1573 Arena

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19-Caroline Garcia (FRA) def Jessika Poncet (FRA), 6-2 6-3

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20-Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) def Janko Tipsarevic (SRB), 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-4

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9-Kiki Bertens (NED) def Alison Riske (USA), 6-3 6-3

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Not before 5pm

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Matthew Ebden (AUS) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

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Court 3

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11-Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) def Anna Kalinskaya (RUS), 6-1 6-4

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14-Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) def Matteo Berrettini (ITA), 6-7(3) 6-4 6-3 7-6(4)

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Yafan Wang (CHN) def Ellen Perez (AUS), 6-4 6-0

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Jordan Thompson (AUS) def Feliciano Lopez (ESP) , 6-1, 7-6, 6-3

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Other Aussies in action

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Court 7

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First match: Astra Sharma (AUS) def Priscilla Hon (AUS), 7-5 4-6 6-1

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Second match: Kimberly Birrell (AUS) def Paula Badosa Gibert (ESP), 6-4 6-2

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Fourth match: Federico Delbonis (ARG) v John Millman (AUS)

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Court 8

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Second match: Zoe Hives (AUS) def Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA), 6-1 6-2

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Court 13

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Second match: Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) def Jason Kubler (AUS), 6-4 7-6(1) 2-6 6-3

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Court 14

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Third match: Denis Kudla (USA) def Marc Polmans (AUS) 5-7, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2

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Follow Day 1 of the 2019 Australian Open in our live blog below.

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If you can’t see it, tap here.

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