February 27, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Is this really the last, LAST dance for Murray and Wawrinka? (pics)

MELBOURNE, Australia – Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka warmed up Monday morning on Kia Arena for their first-round matches at the Australian Open.

And while it’s somewhat unusual for top players to warm up for their matches with each other – although the fact that both will play on that court later in the day made it convenient – it did bring to mind a somewhat sombre realization.

Murray will be 37 in May. Wawrinka will turn … 39 in March.

The Swiss is currently ranked No. 56, and Murray No. 44 – perfectly fine, although a long way from the heights both have enjoyed during their careers.

Murray’s “retirement” video here a few years ago notwithstanding, is this their last dance? It’s not a crazy reality to contemplate. But it is a sad one.

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This is Wawrinka’s 18th Australian Open, going back to 2006 when he was already in the top 50 and lost in the second round to David Nalbandian. A decade ago, he held up the trophy.

He has missed just one, in 2022.

For Murray, who missed Melbourne in 2018, 2020 and 2021, it is the 16th visit. He has made five finals.

Here’s what they looked like in the warmup.

Wawrinka will meet No. 20 seed Adrian Mannarino – who entered the top 20 last week for the first time in his career, at age 35. And who seems to be going as strong as ever.

The Twitter account Jeu, Set et Maths points out that combined, Mannarino and Wawrinka are 74 years and five months old. It will be the “most seasoned” matchup at the Ausralian Open since Ken Rosewall and Sherwood Stewart took each other on back in 1978, when their combined age was 76 years and nine months.

Following him will be Murray against No. 30 seed Thomas Martin Etcheverry, a young Argentine who rose to a career high of No. 30 last summer, despite a rather ordinary 30-27 record at the ATP level. He’s a big, tall, strong hitter of the ball.

It’s hard to say which will be more likely to win their opening round. Perhaps both can get through.

But it’s yet another example, especially after Rafael Nadal returned briefly and went away again, of how the 2024 season might well be full of farewells

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