Andy Murray retired when down 6-1 4-1 to Novak Djokovic in front of thousands of fans at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne. "It's just now that it's definite", he added, acknowledging the era of the "Big Four" - himself, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray - was drawing to a close.
Praise continued to pour in for Andy Murray at the Australian Open on Saturday, 24 hours after his announcement that he plans to retire from tennis after Wimbledon because of a hip injury. "That's what I hope for him", said 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who begins his Australian Open title defence Monday against Denis Istomin. "I feel like I'm closing the gap", he said.
Federer's hope is that it is him and not his body deciding when it's time for him to finally walk away from tennis. But when somebody like him, he achieved nearly everything in his tennis career, is suffering like he's doing for such a long time already, and you feel that you are not competitive for the thing that really makes you wake up every morning and go on court with the passion to practise, to improve, and with a goal, then it is so hard.
"I feel when she's playing at her best, she's the best player in the world", he said. "I think it will be a huge loss for tennis in general, but also for the WTA". Murray has been forced to admit his playing days are numbered due to pain following surgery on his right hip, after an incredible career which has seen him reach the heights of world number one and become the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years. "There's little things like day-to-day which are also a struggle". Anyways, I just want you to know, and I'm sure you already do, everyone wants you to keep fighting and to keep being you. He said he understood his body and had a great team around him. Some of these gestures have been small, made all the more remarkable for their rarity.
"I would have loved to have played him when he was in his prime as I am now, it would maybe have been a much more competitive match".
When he was lauded for being the "first person to win two Olympic gold medals for tennis", Murray again cut the questioner off with: "Venus and Serena have won four each".
"The serve was always a thing that I tried to improve, and I think I did".
Williams' actions ignited the partisan USA crowd and they booed through the victory ceremony until Williams belatedly realised how all this appeared and attempted, unconvincingly, to comfort the younger woman.
But perhaps the place where Murray's deeds matched his words most sharply was his hiring of former pro Amelie Mauresmo as a coach.
"Seems like he had not very long career because today players are playing that long".
Djokovic is undoubtedly back, the 31-year-old rediscovering his mojo in winning Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 to regain the No.1 ranking and top seeding status for the Open.
"I know he will be immensely proud of those achievements even though he will be disappointed at the moment". "Because even nowadays, when you think everything is equal, you still need men, especially successful men, to speak up for women". "Obviously I've been talking to her a lot even a year ago".