Andy Murray endured a frustrating start to the new year as he was beaten by the world No 76, Facundo Bagnis, in the first round of the Melbourne Summer Series.
The 34-year-old produced an error-strewn display as he lost 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 against Bagnis, leaving him plenty of work to do before the Australian Open this month.
Murray had harboured hopes of making a competitive start to 2022 after reaching the final of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi in December, where he was beaten by Andrey Rublev.
But those hopes largely evaporated in a disappointing display which left the Scot slamming his racket into his bench in frustration midway through the deciding set.
Bagnis, who has never gone beyond the third round of a grand slam tournament, took the first set but Murray responded well with a dominant second to level matters.
However, Murray was afflicted by a poor ball toss and dreadful second-serve percentage, enabling Bagnis to grab the crucial break in the fifth game of the final set before serving out to take the match.
Murray has accepted a wild card into the Australian Open, two years after indicating his appearance in Melbourne was likely to be his last because of impending hip surgery.
There was a much more positive return in Melbourne for Naomi Osaka, who said her main target for 2022 is to feel like she is “having fun” on the court following her opening win at the Melbourne Summer Set. Playing her first match in four months, Osaka beat Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 6-3 in the first round of the Australian Open warm-up tournament.
The four-time grand slam title winner, the reigning Australian Open champion, took a break from playing after losing against Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the US Open in September.
Quoted on the WTA website after the victory against Cornet, Osaka said: “I only really have one major goal this year, and it’s completely unrelated to results and stuff like that. For me, I just want to feel like every time I step on the court I’m having fun. I can walk off the court knowing that even if I lost, I tried as hard as I could.
“Also, I have a goal in the pressroom, that I’m never going to cry again, so hopefully that works out in my favour. I’m the type of person that cared a little bit too much about the results and the ranking and stuff like that and I just need to find a way to enjoy the game again. Because that’s the reason why I was playing in the first place.”
Following her Australian Open triumph last year, Osaka withdrew from the French Open for mental health reasons after being threatened with expulsion over refusing to fulfil media duties, and then missed Wimbledon. The 24-year-old broke down in tears in Cincinnati in August during what was her first press conference since the French Open withdrawal.
Osaka represented Japan at the Tokyo Olympics in July, losing against Marketa Vondrousova in the third round, before making the US Open exit at the same stage in September.