While the focus of the tennis world was set on the travails of Novak Djokovic former world No.1 Andy Murray fought back from a set down to beat American fourth seed Reilly Opelka 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4 and book a identify in his first final since winning in Antwerp in 2019.
After a close first set which went to a tiebreaker, Murray broke early in the second set and rode on his rule to claim the set 6-4.
Murray carried his momentum into the deciding set, breaking Opelka’s serve again to take a 5-4 rule before securing victory with a composed love keep up to set up a showdown with top-seeded Aslan Karatsev, who prevailed 6-3 7-6(13) 6-3 over Dan Evans.
“I lost a tight first set and it’s not easy to come back against someone who serves like that, but I kept working and taking opportunities,” said Murray, who could lift his 47th title on the ATP tour with a win in the final on Saturday.
“Returning has always been a strong part of my game, and I used it well [against Opelka].
“It would be amazing to start the year with a trophy, but it’s already been a big week for me, to string four results together like this is much more than I managed last year.”
It wasn’t to be an all-British final as Karatsev battled to a 6-3 7-6(13) 6-3 win over British third seed Evans in a gruelling match that lasted over three hours.
The Russian won the opening set comfortably and Evans rallied back to save three match points in a lengthy tiebreaker to force the decider.
Evans, furious that his opponent was able to take a five-minute break to change his clothes before the third set, fell behind 3-0 before breaking back to level, but Karatsev secured a break to go 5-3 up and seal victory with his fourth match point.
“It was a tough match especially against Evans who does not give free points at all,” Karatsev said.
“In the second he moved better and didn’t make much mistakes, my level dropped down a bit. I found the energy for the third set and am happy to win the match.”
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