Brisbane, Australia – Scotland's Andy Murray called on all his experience to defeat rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7/0), 6-4 and retain his Brisbane International title on Sunday.
In a high-class final, Murray came from 4-1 down in the first set and a break in the second to subdue the challenge of the talented Dimitrov.
“I thought the standard of tennis was good today,” Murray said, admitting he had to change tactics during the first set after Dimitrov's lightning start.
“There were a lot of high-quality rallies and I had to change a few things. He started the match off very well and was extremely aggressive.
“I needed to change things around a little bit and I managed to start dictating a lot of points and use my forehand well. So my groundies worked well today.”
The 87-minute victory gave Murray his 25th ATP career title and was the perfect preparation for the Australian Open beginning in just over a week.
But he was made to work hard for the win by Dimitrov, whose playing style and classical one-handed backhand has drawn comparisons with the great Roger Federer.
It was Dimitrov's backhand that initially caused problems for the reigning US Open champion, who had trouble dealing with the amount of slice the Bulgarian was getting on the ball.
Dimitrov, playing in his first ATP final, broke Murray's first service game and looked untroubled on his own serve until serving for the set at 5-4, when he faltered and allowed the Scotsman back into the match.
Murray took his chance and stormed through the tie-break without dropping a point, his powerful groundstrokes forcing Dimitrov onto the back foot and into error.
Dimitrov had another great chance in the second set when he broke Murray in the seventh game to go ahead 4-3, only for the world number three to hit back immediately.
Murray held his own serve to go to 5-4, then broke again to take the title when a Dimitrov backhand sailed long.
The 21-year-old Bulgarian conceded Murray's experience had been the difference.
“I was up a break and I was actually not playing bad tennis at all I thought,” he said.
“But he's one of the best returners in the game by far. He picked up a couple of my serves on big points, so I think that gave him extra confidence. Then he stepped up with his serve.
“When he has to play good, he plays good. He pulled out some really, really good shots when he had to.
“I didn't feel that I was far from winning the set or even the match, but still that was a little margin that he had covered.” – Sapa-AFP