• Brisbane International

Emotional Murray kicks off 2013 with Brisbane title

ESPN staff
January 6, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Andy Murray is in title-winning shape a week out from the Australian Open, after he defended his Brisbane International crown against Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

Murray's 25th career title confirms his status as one of the favourites for the year's first grand slam, and victory came in straight sets 7-6(0) 6-4.

"I'd like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends," an emotional Murray said, referring to Ross Hutchins who is suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma. "He's back home watching - you're going to get through it."

Victory was hard-earned for the world No. 3, who fell behind in both sets before showing his fighting spirit to halt Dimitrov's momentum. The Bulgarian allowed Murray one of the opening 12 points as he stormed into an early 3-0 lead.

"It's his first final. Everyone will agree he played some extremely exciting tennis, it was a very tough match," Murray said.

"He's just changed coaches, started with a new team, so congratulations to them - I'm sure they're going to do great things together."

Three double-faults did not help Murray's cause in the first set, and he had to save set point en route to a tiebreaker. Up to that stage of the match the Brit had won fewer points than his opponent, but he powered through the breaker 7-0 to establish a lead.

The second set followed a similar pattern with Dimitrov again setting the pace with the first break of serve. It looked like he would force a decider when serving at 4-3, but two sublime Murray backhands levelled it up at 4-4.

That started a three-game blitz for the British No. 1, who held in the next game before penetrating the Dimitrov serve again to complete victory in an hour-and-a-half. The clinical nature of Murray's game was particularly impressive, converting three of four break chances in the contest.

He will now hope to take such form into the Australian Open, the final of which he has reached twice in the last three years without getting his hands on the trophy. Play begins on January 14.

Sunday proved less successful for Murray's fellow Brit Colin Fleming, who was beaten 6-0 6-0 in his Heineken Open qualifier against Igor Sijsling. Fleming, naturally a doubles specialist, was defeated in 34 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Chennai Open final was won by second seed Janko Tipsarevic, who came from behind to beat surprise opponent and world No. 80 Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-1 6-3.

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