Big progress to be in a final: Murray

SYDNEY • Former tennis world No. 1 Andy Murray yesterday reached his first final since 2019 in a massive boost for his confidence ahead of the Australian Open.

The three-time Grand Slam winner, who underwent career-saving hip surgery, has now claimed four straight wins for the first time since being crowned champion at Antwerp nearly three years ago.

He again was exceptional against the towering Reilly Opelka at the Sydney Classic, battling through their semi-final 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-4 and successfully blunting the American's giant serve.

The Scot, who has been given a wild card into the next fortnight's Australian Open, said he was encouraged by how he was playing heading into the opening Grand Slam of the year, a tournament where he was a five-time finalist.

"It would be amazing to start the year with a win, it's already been a great week for me," said the 34-year-old, now ranked 135th, who closed his eyes and let out a huge roar on winning the match.

"It's big progress from anything I've done in the last year or so. To string four matches together like this, against a couple of top players," added Murray, setting his sights on a 47th career title.

"I'll go for 47 tomorrow. I've played better with each match and hopefully, I step it up again tomorrow."

He will face Aslan Karatsev, after the Russian beat Briton Dan Evans 6-3, 6-7 (13-15), 6-3, in today's final.

In the women's draw, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova yesterday showed her resilience in overcoming a poor opening set and handing the seventh-ranked Estonian Anett Kontaveit a 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (14-12) defeat to advance to the final.

"She started really well and was hitting the ball really hard," said the Czech world No. 4.

"I felt she was playing really aggressive. I had to find a plan B and I'm really happy I found a plan B.

"I think it's perfect because when you come after the off-season, you don't really know what to expect, and you are a little bit doubting yourself if you did a good off-season.

"I can see that the off-season was good. I believe I'm going to continue like this and it's an amazing result."

Krejcikova will meet Spain's world No. 9 Paula Badosa, who beat Russia's Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2022, with the headline Big progress to be in a final: Murray. Subscribe