Karatsev defeated British tennis icon Murray to win the title (VIDEO)

Karatsev defeated British tennis icon Murray to win the title (VIDEO)

Russian tennis star Aslan Karatsev has won a title ahead of his bid to repeat his 2021 exploits at the Australian Open

Aslan Karatsev beat three-time major winner Andy Murray to win the Sydney Tennis Classic – giving the Russian a big boost ahead of the Grand Slam, in which he was only defeated by champion Novak Djokovic in the 2021 semi-finals.

In a victorious first encounter with Murray, world number 20 Karatsev put in a near perfect performance to claim a third title in a career that had been sensational over the past two years.

The champion kept his response brief in his post-match interview, acknowledging that the tournament is going on in tough conditions in the wake of the pandemic.

The veteran Murray was emotional, talking about how he missed his family and congratulated Karatsev.

“I know he arrived late in Australia too – he was recovering from Covid – so it’s all the more impressive,” The former world number one player said, wishing Karatsev all the best for the Australian Open.

“I really missed playing matches like these. The result was not in my direction but I hope I can have more matches like this. ,

Karatsev got off to a great start in the final, breaking Murray straight and catching his first service game for Love.

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The 28-year-old broke Murray again late in the first set to win 6-3, then took a 3-0 lead in the second.

Game 5 of that set was telling, as Karatsev took 13 minutes to catch serve and five break points to take a 4-1 lead.

At this point both players were sweaty, Karatsev demanded more water and Murray, who was increasingly alive on the pitch, looked tired as the familiar refrain of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ struck the arena.

A raucous crowd displayed a raft of British and Scottish flags, with some supporters wearing face paint and fancy dress to rock Murray’s homeland.

The five-time Australian Open finalist was in his first final since 2019 but never seriously threatened to beat Karatsev despite his overzealous spirit throughout the match.

With his T-shirt wet, Murray pushed Karatsev 5-3, saving two match points, including a double fault from his Moscow-born rival.

Then Karatsev kicked back into high gear to serve the final two and gave himself reason to believe he could challenge again when the Australian Open begins on 17 January.

Although unknown to most fans until last year’s edition, 2021 ATP Most Improved Player Karatsev had a remarkable run that only ended when he lost to champion Djokovic in the last four.

The top seed secured her second win of the week against a British player at the Ken Roswell Arena after beating third seed Dan Evans to reach the final.

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Karatsev will be seeded 18th at this year’s Australian Open, although that could change if efforts to avoid top seed Djokovic’s ouster before the tournament fail.

This sees third seed Karatsev Russia in Melbourne, behind second seed Daniil Medvedev and fifth seed Andrey Rublev.

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