ATP

Murray through to Sydney final as Karatsev prevents all-British title match

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

Andy Murray will face the surprise package of last year's Australian Open in Saturday's final of the Sydney Classic.

Blocking Murray's way to a first ATP Tour title since October 2019 will be Russian player Aslan Karatsev, whose gritty win over Dan Evans prevented an all-British final.

Evans won a marathon tie-break in the second set of that encounter but could not maintain the level as he lost out 6-3 6-7 (13-15) 6-3 to a player who caused a sensation by reaching the 2021 Australian Open semi-finals.

It was also a case of digging deep for Murray, who picked up a stellar win over American Reilly Opelka, triumphing 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4 against the fourth seed and world number 25. Murray is ranked down at number 135, but this strong week has provided evidence he still belongs at a much higher level.

Three years have passed since Murray came to Australia and indicated he was close to retirement due to hip trouble. He has battled back against the odds to stay active, but his lone ATP singles final appearance since that point came at the 2019 European Open in Antwerp, where he beat Stan Wawrinka to land a surprise title.

Now he is back in another title match, for what will be just his fourth singles final on the main tour since the end of the 2016 season, when he reached world number one status.

Murray rifled 16 aces and no double faults, winning an impressive 88 per cent of points when he landed his first ball in court, and his serve was not broken at any point by Opelka.

He has 46 singles titles and dearly wants to reach 50 before calling it a day, with a glorious chance to land a 47th coming up on Saturday.

Karatsev, the world number 20, is not a player that Murray would underestimate. He was ranked 114th and largely unknown before going on his run to the final four in Melbourne last February, but he has since pushed on and should provide a stiff test for three-time major winner Murray.

"It's already been a great week for me, big progress from anything I've done in the last year or so, to string four matches together like this and against top players in Basilashvili and Opelka," said Murray. "I'll go for 47 tomorrow. It's been a good week, I've played better with each match, so hopefully I'll step it up again."

At the Adelaide International 2 event, Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis produced a stunning semi-final win over fourth seed Marin Cilic, battling to a 6-2 3-6 7-6 (12-10) victory over the former US Open champion, teeing up a shot at Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in the title match.

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