Murray tunes up with Brisbane win
Andy Murray was able to withstand the challenge from the promising Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Photo: Getty Images
Scotsman Andy Murray has started on the right foot in his quest for a second Grand Slam title, winning the warm-up event in Brisbane with a straight sets victory over young gun Grigor Dimitrov.
But the world number three won’t take any swagger into the Australian Open despite entering the first Slam of the year with the monkey gone from his back after claiming the US Open title.
Murray, the top seed and world number three, defended his Brisbane International crown on Pat Rafter Arena with a 7-6 (7-0) 6-4 victory after holding off a blistering start from the Bulgarian 21-year-old, the youngest man in the men's top 50 and a future prospect.
Murray had been pushed earlier in the week, dropping a set to Australian qualifier John Millman, and had his hands full again in the final. Unlike the women’s winner Serena Williams, his road to Melbourne Park hasn’t consisted of one-way traffic.
He clawed his way back after being down 5-2 in the first set before having too much poise in the tie break, sweeping it 7-0. Murray finished the match in a more regulation second set to close out Dimitrov, who was playing in his first ATP final.
Dimitrov had a breakout week in Brisbane before falling at the hands of Murray. He ended the hopes of second seed Milos Raonic, seventh seed Jurgen Melzer, the experienced Marcos Baghdatis and could do some damage in the early rounds in Melbourne.
But Murray was a different proposition and the Scotsman will head to Victoria with another title under his belt and designs at adding the Australian crown to his US Open title.
He said he felt more relaxed than in previous years, which is little surprise now he has shed the unwanted reputation as the best player never to win a major title.
“I’ll see when I go to play my first match how I feel,” Murray said.
“I do feel more relaxed one week out from a Slam than I have done previously, that's for sure, so I hope that’s a good sign.
“But, yeah, I won’t know until I get on the court how I will be, if I’ll be extremely nervous or, you know, be a little bit more relaxed. Nerves are a good thing. Shows you care.”
Murray said the the victory was for a sick friend back home but decided to expand on his post-match dedication.
Dimitrov had spent six weeks training in frozen Scandinavia before heading to Brisbane and the sunshine has done him a world of good.
Dimitrov, who is rumoured to be dating Maria Sharapova, said the match had given him a dose of confidence and showed him the difference between the top four players and the best of the rest.
“I mean, the guys are just stronger. There is always a little something that when you play the match they bring it out when they have to, whether it’s going to be a break point or what you’re going to do under pressure,” he said.
“For example, I had a set point in the first set and he aced me 209 wide, so I was like, 'Okay'.
“This is like a such a small, small gap between it but makes the biggest difference actually.”