The former world No.1, Andy Murray reached his first ATP Tour final since 2019 with a three-set win over Reilly Opelka at the Sydney Tennis Classic but the hopes of an all-British final were dashed by the top seeded Aslan Karatsev who defeated Dan Evans in the top half of the draw.
I lost a tight first set and it's not easy to come back against someone who serves like that, but I love competing Andy Murray
The 34-year-old Scot, currently ranked 135, fought back from a set down to beat the big serving 6’11” 25th-ranked American Reilly Opelka, the fourth seed, 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4 letting out a loud roar at his first final since winning the 2019 European Open in Antwerp which was his first since hip surgery early in 2018.
Meanwhile compatriot Evans, the third seed, saved three match points before finally capitulating to Karatsev 3-6 6-7(13) 6-3 but not before complaining to the umpire after the epic 15-13 tie-break — and dropping the first game of the decider — of not applying the new rules limiting ‘comfort breaks’ to three-minutes after the Russian had gone over the allowed time by some two-minutes!
“It was a tough match against Evans,” Karatsev said after the match. “He’s a guy who doesn’t give you any free points at all.”
And looking ahead to Sunday’s final and his match against the three-time grand slam champion, added in what will be their first meeting on the tour: “I will be prepared.
“I have to rest a bit, prepare mentally and physically, and we will see tomorrow.”
Murray, meanwhile, will be chasing his 47th career title.
“It would be amazing to start the year with a trophy, but it’s already been a big week for me,” Murray said in his on-court interview following his semi-final victory.
“To string four results together like this is much more than I managed last year.”
Murray is preparing for the Australian Open, starting on Monday, where he will play Georgian 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the first round, a player he beat earlier this week in his second-round match.
Murray was visibly frustrated after fighting back from 5-1 down in the first set tie-break to draw level at 6-6, only to lose it 8-6 against the big-serving Opelka.
However, he has been moving well all week and his returns have been excellent, breaking Opelka early in the second set to eventually force a decider.
Murray could not convert four break points on the Opelka serve before he eventually found a way through and served out the match to love.
“I lost a tight first set and it’s not easy to come back against someone who serves like that, but I love competing,” Murray added.