Not in the cards: Andy Murray loses to Taro Daniel

The “Taro card” reading wasn’t a happy one for Andy Murray. The three-time major champion lost to his Japanese opponent in the second round of the 2022 Australian Open on Thursday, bowing out of Melbourne Park.

Tennis fans were hoping that Murray could win just one more match. Had he won, Murray would have faced No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner in a battle of ATP generations. Murray-Sinner would have been appointment viewing in the third round, but Daniel went into the den (and the din) and stopped the lionhearted Murray’s Melbourne campaign.

What’s the big takeaway from this match — not only from a tennis betting perspective but primarily from the vantage point of anyone who wants to assess Murray’s uncertain career?

It’s not that complicated.

Murray had one of his very familiar “scenic route” matches in Round 1 of the tournament, needing five sets to outlast Nikoloz Basilashvili in a very physically taxing match. Murray spent five sets running down Basilashvili’s howitzer-force groundstrokes. Murray was willing to play longer points out of a felt need to make Basilashvili miss. The strategy for that specific match was reasonable enough on its own terms, but it created a long deathmarch for the aging Murray, who turns 35 later this year. Murray got through one day’s play, but not in a way which set him up for future success as the fortnight in Australia continued.

Win the battle, lose the war.

Murray needs to find ways of avoiding prolonged battles. He has to win early-stage matches cleanly and efficiently so that he has enough fuel in the tank for the next match and the match after that. Murray needs a clean Week 1 if he is to enter Week 2 and then have enough staying power to put up a fight in the fourth round and quarterfinals.

That’s the lesson for Andrew Barron Murray, after an inspiring win and then a second-round loss created by his first-round marathon.

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