Andy Murray’s Australian Open exit at the hands of Mischa Zverev in the fourth round was not what some would call, expected. The heavy favourite, following the departure of biggest rival Novak Djokovic, top seed Murray had reached the final in Melbourne on five separate occasions and not lost to a player ranked this low at a Grand Slam in over a decade.
When these stats are bandied about, it is easy to reach towards the panic button. Is he motivated enough? Did Djokovic’s loss make him complacent? Will he ever win another Grand Slam? But let’s just slow down a second and take stock about what this means exactly.
Murray is still world number one. Despite losing overall ranking points, Djokovic has lost more, and he is now entering a period of the season where he has no points to defend. At the end of the day, it is a dispiriting loss – and Murray will undoubtedly be harder on himself than anyone else – but it is not the end of the world.
Sport stars are human, fallible people like us who are allowed off days. Combine that with an opponent who played exceptionally well, utilising a dynamic serve and volley attack, and it is perhaps not the most shocking result in the world.
As the old saying goes, form is temporary, but class is permanent. At this stage in his career, I think we can all safely agree that Murray has the latter by the bucket full.
Image credit: Marianne Bevis