Andy Murray beats American Reilly Opelka to secure final berth at the Sydney Tennis Classic

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray had the chance to win his first ATP title since 2019 after battling to reach the final of the Sydney Classic.

Murray showed plenty of fighting spirit to come from a backward group to win 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 6-4 over world number 25 Riley Opelka on Friday.

The Scotsman will meet Aslan Karatsev in Saturday’s final after he prevented the Russian world number 20 from reaching the final for Britain by defeating Dan Evans 6-3, 6-7 (15-13) 6-3 in an epic last-four match.

After years of injury, Murray has not won the ATP Championship since his victory in Antwerp in October 2019, and he is desperate for the 47th title.

“It’s already been a great week for me, a huge progression from anything I’ve done in the past year or so.

“To put together four matches like this, against two of the best players in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Obelka. [has been good].

“I’m going for 47 tomorrow. It’s been a good week. I played better with every game. I hope to raise it tomorrow.”

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A debilitating hip injury several years ago that required two rounds of surgery put Murray’s career in the balance.

But the 34-year-old’s fluid movement on the court this week has raised hopes he can turn back the clock and make real progress at the Australian Open, where he was a five-time runner-up.

Neither Murray nor Opelka could generate a point-breaking opportunity in the opening set decided by the tiebreak.

Murray recovered from trailing 5-1 in the tiebreak to tie the score 6-6, saving a set point along the way.

But when he put a backhand slide into the net, he gave Opelka another designation point that took full advantage of the 211cm American.

Murray shrieked in frustration as soon as the set slipped through his fingers, but grabbed an early break in the second set to send the bout to the winner.

The former world number one wasted 15-40 point break chances on two occasions in the third set.

But he made up for it when the next opportunity came his way, taking the decisive break in the ninth game to seal victory.

“I lost a tight first set, and it’s not easy to come back against a player who sends like that and plays with that style of play,” Murray said.

“But I kept fighting, I kept making returns, creating chances and I was able to take the win.

AAP

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