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EVE MUIRHEAD: Grand Slam five-set format hinders Andy Murray’s chances of more tennis glory

Andy Murray is out of the Australian Open.
Andy Murray is out of the Australian Open.

Andy Murray rolled back the years in the first round of the Australian Open, giving the sort of performance in his victory against Nikoloz Basilashvili that reminded us of his peak and added to his legacy.

And then in the second round defeat to Taro Daniel the harsh realities of where he is in his career came back.

Andy is clearly still capable of some big one-off performances, which is incredible in itself given everything his body has gone through.

By getting to the final in Sydney last week he is also capable of backing up good results for regular ATP Tour events.

There are a lot of tennis pros who would love to be able to say the same.

But unfortunately the five-set grand slam format makes the chances of him going deep into one of the big four tournaments very slim.

Once he is taken the distance in the early rounds, it’s too much to expect his metal hip to be in the sort of condition that allows him to do it again.

He would need to rattle off two or three games in three sets but it’s a chicken and egg situation.

Because he’s unseeded, he’s highly unlikely to be in a position to do that.

A big thing is made of the Grand Slams being different to the other events in men’s tennis.

But it definitely works against guys in their 30s – even those who don’t have metal hips – lasting a fortnight.

There aren’t many sports where the length of games change in that way.

Golf has a similar calendar to tennis, with the four majors deemed bigger than the rest but they still play 72 holes.

Curling does change (for men and women).

It switches from eight ends to 10 at Europeans, Worlds and Olympics – and I must admit, I think it should be eight across the board.

Without getting too technical, it doesn’t do much for the excitement of matches.

You get ends in the middle which are more about marking time.

It’s not great for holding the attention of spectators on TV and the ice conditions worsen at the end of games when you need them to be at their best.

I don’t know if there is a push for men’s tennis to be three sets across the board but I think there are more reasons for doing that than not.

Unfortunately, it will be too late for Andy.


Sunday will be a big day on the road to Beijing.

We’ll be going into our holding camp lodge and getting kitted out with all our Team GB Olympic gear.

And I’m going to be on the Sunday Brunch show on Channel 4!

The media requests are spiralling as you would imagine and I’m finding that it being my fourth Games is the biggest recurring theme.

Oh, and asking me if I’m going to retire after China!

You get a mix of the pure sporting interviews and the more lifestyle-type ones.

It’s all part of the build-up and it’s good for the other girls to get a taste of it as well.

We’ll be getting our media training at the start of the week to remind us what not to say when we’re out there but I think I’ve got the hang of it by now!

EVE MUIRHEAD: Andy Murray route to the top of tennis is better than Emma Raducanu’s

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