© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Andy Murray is a five-time Australian Open finalist.

Murray: 'This Is A Really Important Year For Me'

Murray's next outings will be in the Middle East

Andy Murray will not let his Australian Open disappointment impact the rest of his season.

The Brit never got going against Japan’s Taro Daniel on Thursday evening, converting just two of 11 break points as he went down 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to the No. 120-ranked qualifier.

“This is a really important year for me for a number of reasons,” said Murray after his second-round exit, “and I want to perform well in the big events. For me, tonight is not good enough in that respect. Making the second round of Slams is not something I find motivating. I want to be doing better than that.”

Murray acknowledged that Daniel, who won his sole ATP Tour title in Istanbul in 2018, deserved the win on John Cain Arena. “He was solid the whole match, which was what I was expecting from him. He moves well, and he's very consistent. He doesn't give matches to you.”

The Brit was still able to take some positives from the defeat, particularly how his body held up after an intense 10 days in which he reached the final of the Sydney Tennis Classic (l. to Karatsev) and battled through a three-hour, 52 minute five-set epic with Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round in Melbourne.

“I felt all right today, physically,” said Murray. “I pulled up pretty well from the [Basilashvili] match the day afterwards. From that respect I was actually quite happy considering the situation.”

The physical strides he has made in recent months made the loss to Daniel hurt more for the former World No. 1. “I'm really disappointed,” he said. “A tough loss for me. That's for sure.”

One development that Murray hopes will drive his success in 2022 is a change of racquet, and he is willing to give himself time to get up to speed with his new equipment. “It's not an excuse for losing today,” said Murray, “but I have to factor that into my performances for a couple of months. Everyone I have spoken to around changing racquets [says] that it does take a bit of time to gain confidence in it, so I have to bear that in mind.

“The reason for changing racquets is to improve your performance and to obviously do better in the bigger events, and that didn't happen this week. That's frustrating for me.”

Murray will now return home to the U.K. to prepare for his next scheduled tournaments in Doha and Dubai. He spoke emotionally about his family on court following his Sydney loss to Karatsev but was positive about the work-life balance he has been able to strike. “It's harder leaving home when you know you've got four children than it was when I was in my mid-20s,” said Murray, “but I still like when I'm here. I'm able to focus well on the tennis and that process.

“I get to go home now and spend some time with them. My family has been a bit sick the last week. Obviously when that's the case, you also want to be there to help and feel like you're contributing.”

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