SYDNEY (AP)Andy Murray’s impressive run ended one win short of a 47th career title when he lost the Sydney Tennis Classic final 6-3, 6-3 to top-seeded Aslan Karatsev on Saturday.
The 34-year-old Murray started the week with his first win on Australian soil in more than 1,000 days. The three-time major winner progressed through the rounds to reach his first final since 2019.
Karatsev, who reached the Australian Open semifinals last year after going through qualifying for the season-opening major, was just too good.
”First time back in the finals for three years, it’s been a long road to get back here,” said Murray, a three-time major winner who has slid from No. 1 to No. 135 in the rankings. ”I’ll keep trying my best to come back and have more nights like this. Maybe see you next year.”
Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, received a wild-card entry for the Sydney tournament and beat Viktor Durasovic and 23rd-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili, then Reilly Opelka in the semifinals, raising expectations after recurring hip injuries limited him to playing only one of the past four Australian Opens.
Murray won’t have long to recover before he takes on Basilashvili again in the first round of the Australian Open.
The men’s title in Sydney was one of four awarded on Saturday as the tune-up series concluded ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Monday.
In the women’s final in Sydney, Paula Badosa claimed her third career title when she upset French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4).
In Adelaide, unseeded Madison Keys claimed her first WTA Tour singles title since 2019 when she beat Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 in an all-American final, and Thanasi Kokkinakis claimed in his first ATP Tour title in front of his home fans by beating Arthur Rinderknech 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The 25-year-old Kokkinakis considered retirement after struggling with shoulder, chest, groin, knee and elbow injuries over five years. That’s off the radar, for now, after a run of eight wins in two weeks.
Kokkinakis will play qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the Australian Open and could meet 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal in the second round.
Earlier in Adelaide, Keys needed only 66 minutes to beat her regular practice partner in the first all-American final on the WTA Tour since Serena Williams beat Jessica Pegula at Auckland in 2020.
Wielding a powerful forehand from the baseline and moving well, Keys took the first set in less than a half-hour and broke Riske’s serve twice in the second set to claim her sixth career title and first since Cincinnati in 2019.
She didn’t offer the 57th-ranked Riske a break point chance while she converted five of nine and hit four aces.
Keys can now turn her attention to the Australian Open where she will face 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the first round.
The former world No. 7 and 2017 U.S. Open finalist, who has slipped to her current 87th-ranking due to injuries and a form slump in recent years, had overcome a leg injury to beat third-seeded compatriot Coco Gauff 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a semifinals to reach her first tour final since since 2020.
Badosa needed 2 hours, 22 minutes to clinch her win in Sydney, getting a vital mini-break in the third-set tiebreaker to close out the match.
The fifth-seeded Badosa used her strong serve to good effect, recording 12 aces including six in a commanding first set.
Third-seeded Krejcikova rallied in the second set, breaking Badosa’s serve twice. Both had a service break in the final set before Badosa got the winning edge in the decisive tiebreaker.
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