Andy Murray receives Australian Open main draw wildcard in comeback boost

Andy Murray has been given a wildcard to play at the Australian Open next month after his promising form at the end of the 2021 season.

The Brit is a five-time finalist in Melbourne and a three-time Grand Slam champion after successes at Wimbledon and in the US Open earlier in his stellar career.

But injuries have taken their toll in recent years, and a severe hip problem looked like it would force him into retirement.

Even he announced on the eve of the 2019 Australian Open that a second surgery would most likely not save his career, and that it might be the last fans got to see of him in action as a professional.

However, Murray has mounted something of a slow-burning comeback and ended the 2021 season with a strong run of form which included impressive wins over Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna and Jannik Sinner at the Stockholm Open.

And, at the exhibition Mubadala World Tennis Championship earlier this month, he beat fellow Briton Dan Evans and Rafael Nadal in straight sets before defeat to Andrey Rublev in the final match.

His star appeal and strong form has seen him offered a place at the Australian Open despite not qualifying for the competition through his world ranking.

Tournament chief executive Craig Tiley hailed Murray's ability and pedigree as the news was announced.

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

"Andy is renowned for his fighting spirit, passion and love of the game and I’m delighted to welcome him back to Melbourne in January."

Murray said:" I'm really excited to be back playing at the Australian Open and grateful to Craig and the team for the opportunity.

"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 missed the 2020 tournament in Australia due to a pelvic injury, and could not take part at the start of this year after a positive Covid-19 test and subsequent struggles to find a suitable place to quarantine.

The former world No 1 looked like he was going to miss out on the competition for the third straight year, as he is ranked 134th and would have needed a large swathe of withdrawals if he were to qualify through his ATP Tour standing.

The Australian Open is set to begin on January 17, with all players and coaches travelling from abroad needing to quarantine before being allowed to take part.

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