Andy Murray will play in his first ATP final in 27 months after coming from behind to beat Reilly Opelka 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4 at the Sydney Tennis Classic..
The former world number one makes his first final since October 2019 and will face Russia's Aslan Karatsev.
The Scot was given a thorough examination by powerful American Opelka, who hit 20 aces, but in two hours and 24 minutes he was able to topple his 6ft 11" opponent.
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Murray battled past David Goffin in the quarter-finals after the Belgian had to retire and Nikoloz Basilashvili, who he has been drawn against in the first round of the Australian Open, in the round of 16.
"I love competing," Murray said after the match.
"You want to try to finish the matches if you can but I lost a tight first set and it is not easy to come back against someone who serves like that. I kept fighting and managed to get the win."
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Murray is pursuing his 47th career title which, should he achieve it, would see him jump back into the top 100 of the ATP rankings. He says he has been improving in every match he has played this week.
“It would be amazing to start the year with a win,” he added.
“It’s been a great week for me, great progress against anything I’ve done in the past year. I’ll go for 47 tomorrow. It’s been a good week. I’ve played better with each match.”
Opelka raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set tie break after a first set where neither player was able to produce even a break point, but Murray fought back to make it 5-5 before eventually the American took it 8-6.
Murray was able to break the formidable Opelka serve in the third game of the second and held his nerve to wrap it up in 41 minutes.
And with the final on the horizon, Murray stayed in the battle in the third set, eventually breaking Opelka at 4-4 before holding out for victory.
EVANS SAVES THREE MATCH POINTS, BUT FALLS TO KARATSEV
In the later semi-final, top seed Karatsev defeated Evans 6-3 6-7(13) 6-3 after a gruelling battle where the Brit saved three match points in an epic 15-13 tie-break in the second set.
Karatsev, who reached the Australian Open semi-final last year, will take part in the fourth final of his career.
"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 many mistakes, my level dropped down a bit. I found the energy for the third set and am happy to win the match.
He added: "I will prepare mentally and physically [for Murray]. We will see how it goes tomorrow."
Karatsev won the first set in relatively comfortable fashion, breaking the Evans serve in the fourth game at the second time of asking before winning the next two games to go 5-1 up.
Evans broke back to bring it back to 5-3, but Karatsev produced a love-hold of serve to seal the set.
The one-hour-26-minute second set turned into an almighty contest as Evans saved three match points. With neither player able to go two clear, the Brit eventually took it by converting his sixth set point.
Evans was furious that Karatsev was able to take a five-minute break to change his clothes before the beginning of the third set and was subsequently warned for unsportsmanlike conduct.
It appeared to affect his game as Karatsev raced into a 3-0 lead. Evans did regain his composure midway through the set, though, breaking back to make it 3-3, but the Russian secured an all-important break to go 5-3 up and secured the victory on his fourth match point.
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