The Scot, 34, eventually saw off his opponent 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in a tense five-set match at the John Cain Arena, having coasted early on before finding things tougher as the momentum swung back towards Basilashvili.
But during his post-match interview, an exhausted Murray appeared to be booed by fans in the stadium, a confusing development given that they had cheered and applauded when he won the match, celebrating wildly himself on the court and exorcising the demons accumulated after several years of injury frustration.
SIR ANDY MURRAY 👑
3 years after his near retirement and a metal hip later, he wins an epic 5 set match in the first round of the Australian Open.
Look what it meant ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LHCdRJRHpg
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 18, 2022
Asked about his form and match fitness by a court-side interviewer, Murray responded: “I want to keep obviously improving, I think there’s things in my game I can definitely do better. I would love to have a deep run here if possible…”
It was at this point that the boos began to be heard from certain sections of the crowd.
“That’s painful stuff there. Those guys…” the star responded, breaking off from his answer.
Undeterred, he continued: “I would like to have a deep run, it’s something I’ve not had in one of the Slams since I came back from the injury and it’s something that motivates me.
“I’ve played some of my best tennis here over the years, I feel comfortable here and I hope I can do it at this tournament.”
While it might be tempting to conclude the booers were responding to Sir Andy’s criticism of the “mess” surrounding the deportation of rival Novak Djokovic after his visa was overturned when it emerged he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19, there could be several other explanations.
Murray had also just been speaking warmly about how nice it is to be back playing before a capacity crowd after months of empty stadia in response to lockdown measures, so it is possible the cries of disapproval were intended to be ironic.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 18, 2022
There also appears to be some doubt over whether the spectators were really booing at all, with several people on Twitter suggesting they were in fact imitating Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous “Siuuu!” goal celebration.
Whatever the truth, the noise reportedly continued to ring out around the arena when local boy Nick Kyrgios subsequently took to the court to play another Brit, Liam Broady, evidently much to his own annoyance.