Andy Murray mauled by Taro Daniel in Australian Open second round | Inquirer Sports
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Andy Murray mauled by Taro Daniel in Australian Open second round

/ 05:53 PM January 20, 2022
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 20, 2022 Britain's Andy Murray in action during his second round match against Japan's Taro Daniel

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 20, 2022 Britain’s Andy Murray in action during his second round match against Japan’s Taro Daniel REUTERS/James Gourley

Former world number one Andy Murray was stunned by Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in straight sets in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The 120th-ranked Daniel ambushed the three-time Grand Slam winner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in 2hr 48min on John Cain Arena to reach the third round of a major for the first time.

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He will now face either Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner or American Steve Johnson.

“Amazing level from me. I was getting pretty nervous in the third set, I was cramping a little bit, but I tried not to make too big a deal out of this match against Andy Murray,” Daniel said.

The 34-year-old Murray, ranked 113 and playing as a tournament wild card, didn’t stick around afterwards and walked quickly from the court, showing great disappointment at his lost opportunity.

Murray, who had career-saving hip surgery in 2019, on Tuesday won his first match at the Australian Open since 2019.

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But his five-set epic against big-hitting Georgian 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili left the veteran leaden-footed and he cut a frustrated figure at times, even changing his shoes at one point to stem the tide.

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 20, 2022 Japan's Taro Daniel in action during his second round match against Britain's Andy Murray

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 20, 2022 Japan’s Taro Daniel in action during his second round match against Britain’s Andy Murray REUTERS/James Gourley

The 28-year-old Daniel exploited his illustrious rival’s lethargy and was whippet-quick around the court chasing down balls, while Murray was picking his battles.

The Japanese broke Murray in the third game and was broken back in the sixth game with a backhand error. Daniel broke again when Murray double-faulted and served out the opening set with an ace.

Murray tried to stay in reach of Daniel, who broke again, and despite having four break-point chances, the Scot could not find a way to break back.

Daniel served out to love to take a two-sets lead and magnify Murray’s task of wresting back control of the match.

Murray cranked up the pressure on Daniel and drew an error for 30-40 and break point. Daniel double-faulted for the first time in a show of the tension to give Murray the early ascendancy in the third set.

But Murray missed a crucial backhand in his next service game and Daniel pounced with a backhand down the line to break and level up the third set.

Daniel broke Murray’s serve again in the ninth game and served out for the match, winning it on his first of two match points.

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TAGS: Andy Murray, Grand Slam, Taro Daniel
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