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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, January 14, 2022

Andy Murray

Andy Murray subdued Reilly Opelka 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Sydney Tennis Classic final where he will play for his 47th title vs. Aslan Karatsev.

Photo credit: Getty

Andy Murray is working with a bigger head and showing the same commitment to clever deconstruction.

Former world No. 1 Murray outdueled American Reilly Opelka 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the Sydney Tennis Classic final and a date with Aslan Karatsev.

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The top-seeded Karatsev spoiled the prospect of an all-British final fending off Dan Evans 6-3, 6-7(13), 6-3 to power into his fourth final.

Facing one of tennis' most fearsome servers, Murray out-served Opelka when it mattered most.

The 34-year-old Briton served 67 percent, pumped 16 aces against no double faults, won 88 percent of first serves and saved the lone break point he faced. 

Down 3-4 in the final set, Murray won three games in a row breaking at 15 and reeling off eight of the last nine points to wrap a two hour, 24 minute triumph.

"In the second set I was like, well, if I can keep getting a read on his serve or a better read on his serve, I am going to get chances," Murray said. "Not many, but I will get some. And it was just about obviously trying to take them when they came, and I was really happy, like I said, with my serve and how solid I was on that.

"I served smart. Used all of the different spots on the court, and second serve was really good. You know, that was kind of what I had to tell myself is that I was going to get the chances if I stayed in there."

One of tennis' top control artists made his first major racquet revision changing from his trademark 95-square inch Head Radical has switched to an all-black 98-square inch Head stick with a slightly bigger sweet spot.

Tennis Express

"Just maybe gives a little bit more spin, a little bit more easier depth on the ball, and it's just, yeah, slightly more forgiving because the sweet spot is a little bit larger," Murray said. "Yeah, thankfully it's been working well so far. You know, it's slightly different when you're playing in hot conditions like in Melbourne, for example, where it's, you know, bouncing a lot and very hot on the court. You know, the ball's flying a bit more.

"But yeah, like here playing kind of indoors and stuff, it's nice, it's worked well, and yeah, hopefully keeps going that way."

Wild card Murray declared winning his 50th career title as a primary preseason goal.

The two-time Olympic gold medal champion will play for his 47th ATP Tour title on Saturday in a match pitting his first serve and all-court finesse against Karatsev's crunching return and baseline blasts. Murray noted Karatsev's jolting power and massive calves make him stand out.

"Karatsev, I have never played against him. I have practiced with him one time in the grass last year," Murray said. "He's obviously a huge, huge ball striker. Really strong guy. Huge pair of calves on him. Yeah, he obviously had an unbelievable run in Australia, I think it was last year he made, I think it was the semis he made.

"Again, he obviously likes it here, enjoys the conditions. Yeah, whoever it is, it's not going to be an easy match. Yeah, another, you know, good one for me to play ahead of the Australian Open."


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