Murray and Raducanu both felled in Australian Open second round

World 120 Taro Daniel is the lowest ranked opponent to beat Murray at Grand Slam

 

Andy Murray’s Australian Open came to a disappointing end with a second-round defeat to world number 120 Taro Daniel - the lowest ranked opponent to beat him at a grand slam.

Hopes were high that Murray could have another strong run in Melbourne when he ground out a five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili in round one, three years after it appeared his career had ended on the same court.

But, back on John Cain Arena, the feeling was very different this time as Murray struggled for sharpness against a tenacious and mobile opponent and fell to a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat.

Daniel had won just five games over three sets in their only previous meeting in Davis Cup in 2016 but Murray, whose heavy workload also included reaching the final of the ATP Tour event in Sydney at the weekend, began sluggishly and was unable to turn the tide in his favour.

He had never lost to a player ranked outside the top 100 at a slam, with then world number 91 Arnaud Clement the previous lowest in the second round of the US Open back in 2005.

At 28, Daniel has spent much of his career hovering around the 100 mark but it is an indication of the depth in the game that he is an extremely solid and capable player, and deceptively quick around the court.

Murray was unable to hit through his opponent during the opening set and, although he retrieved an early break, Daniel quickly secured another one.

Four break points came and went in the second game of the second set - Murray took only two of 11 in the match - and again it was Daniel that came up with the answers at the big moments.

Murray did finally move ahead early in the third but surrendered his advantage straight away and the end was nigh was Daniel broke to lead 5-4.

Murray received a warning for slamming his racket angrily to the court, and Daniel clinched his second match point to move through to the third round of a slam for the first time.

On the women’s side of the draw British hopes were further dented when Emma Raducanu battled through the pain of blisters on her hand but was still beaten by lowly-ranked Danka Kovinic.

The 6-4 4-6 6-3 loss marks the first time the 19-year-old has been defeated in a completed match at a grand slam, with her only previous loss coming when she pulled out with breathing difficulties against Ajla Tomljanovic in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Emma Raducanu has also been knocked out of the early stages of the Australian Open. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Emma Raducanu has also been knocked out of the early stages of the Australian Open. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

That proved a valuable experience and surely this will, as well, with the US Open champion again showing her competitive qualities and giving herself a chance when it appeared a lost cause.

Eurosport announced that Raducanu’s first-round win over Sloane Stephens on Tuesday generated the channel’s biggest audience in the UK for five years, and victory was clearly a big relief for the teenager after a tricky few months trying to adjust to her new status.

This was another new situation for Raducanu, who was the big favourite for a grand slam match for the first time against the world number 98, but she looked calm initially, rattling through the first three games.

Kovinic dug in, though, and, it soon became clear that all was not well with Raducanu. She called the trainer after five games and took a lengthy medical time-out for treatment to her right hand.

With the 17th seed clearly hampered on her forehand side, Kovinic made it five games in a row to lead 5-3 and, although Raducanu broke serve in the next game, the Montenegrin took the set.

By the start of the second set, Raducanu was chopping under virtually all her forehands, which at least had the effect of unsettling Kovinic, who promptly dropped serve.

One of Raducanu’s key strengths, despite her inexperience, is her competitive nous, and she made life uncomfortable for Kovinic, consistently pulling her into the net and passing or lobbing her.

The Montenegrin looked like she had got a grip on proceedings when she broke back for 4-4 but Raducanu, who seemed to be enjoying the challenge despite the pain, broke again and managed to serve out the set.

It was clear how much the blister was bothering her as she winced during further treatment but she was able to hit out more early in the decider.

Kovinic got the better of a series of tight games, though, with the match briefly disrupted while a seagull flew circuits of Margaret Court Arena.

Raducanu tried to find a way back but it was Kovinic who prevailed to became the first player from Montenegro to make it to the third round of a slam.

Men’s second-round results

(32) Alex De Minaur (Aus) bt Kamil Majchrzak (Pol) 6-4 6-4 6-2, (5) Andrey Rublev (Rus) bt Ricardas Berankis (Lit) 6-4 6-2 6-0, Christopher O’Connell (Aus) bt (13) Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (Arg) 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4, (9) Felix Auger-Aliassime (Can) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Esp) 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4), Pablo Andujar (Esp) bt Alex Molcan (Svk) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 0-6 6-1, (2) Daniil Medvedev (Rus) bt Nick Kyrgios (Aus) 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 4-6 6-2, (27) Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Norbert Gombos (Svk) 6-2 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6), (15) Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 6-1 6-0 6-3, Botic Van de Zandschulp (Ned) bt Richard Gasquet (Fra) 4-6 6-0 4-0 ret, (20) Taylor Harry Fritz (USA) bt Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-5), (11) Jannik Sinner (Ita) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-3, (24) Daniel Evans (Brit) bt Arthur Rinderknech (Fra) w/o, Maxime Cressy (USA) bt Tomas Machac (Cze) 6-1 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-5), (4) Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) bt Sebastian Baez (Arg) 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4, Benoit Paire (Fra) bt (26) Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 6-4 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2), Taro Daniel (Jpn) bt Andy Murray (Brit) 6-4 6-4 6-4 .

Women’s second-round results

(7) Iga Swiatek (Pol) bt Rebecca Peterson (Swe) 6-2 6-2, Shuai Zhang (Chn) bt (12) Elena Rybakina (Kaz) 6-4 1-0 ret, (27) Danielle Collins (USA) bt Ana Konjuh (Cro) 6-4 6-3, Maddison Inglis (Aus) bt Hailey Baptiste (USA) 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2, Danka Kovinic (Mne) bt (17) Emma Raducanu (Brit) 6-4 4-6 6-3, (19) Elise Mertens (Bel) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (Rom) 6-3 6-2, (25) Daria Kasatkina (Rus) bt Magda Linette (Pol) 6-2 6-3, (14) Simona Halep (Rom) bt Beatriz Haddad Maia (Bra) 6-2 6-0, Alize Cornet (Fra) bt (3) Garbine Muguruza (Esp) 6-3 6-2, (29) Tamara Zidansek (Slo) bt Heather Watson (Brit) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, Sorana Cirstea (Rom) bt Kristina Kucova (Svk) 6-2 6-4, Kaia Kanepi (Est) bt Marie Bouzkova (Cze) 6-2 7-6 (7-3), Clara Tauson (Den) bt (6) Anett Kontaveit (Est) 6-2 6-4, (10) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) bt Samantha Stosur (Aus) 6-2 6-2, (31) Marketa Vondrousova (Cze) bt Ludmilla Samsonova (Rus) 6-2 7-5, (2) Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) bt Xiyu Wang (Chn) 1-6 6-4 6-2 .

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