An emotional Andy Murray fought back tears and dedicated his victory to “a sick friend” after defeating Grigor Dimitrov in a gripping Brisbane International final yesterday.
Defending champion Murray prevailed 7-6, 6-4 after weathering a storm from his 21-year-old Bulgarian opponent in the opening set.
The US Open champion played a flawless tiebreaker and recovered a service break in the second set to complete an ideal preparation for the Australian Open.
“I’d like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends back home,” Murray said in his speech at the presentation. “You’re going to be okay. You’re going to get through.”
He was asked about the dedication in his post-match conference and replied: “Just a sick friend.”
Murray’s secrecy mirrored his comments after his matches at Wimbledon and the US Open last year when he pointed both index fingers to the sky after all of his contests.
He made the same gesture after beating Dimitrov in his final tournament before the Australian Open.
The Bulgarian pushed Murray to the limit with an array of blazing groundstrokes and looms as a dangerous presence in the Australian Open draw.
He denied fearing any of the top three players in the world: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Murray.
“Fear?” he said. “Why fear? Why do I have to feel intimidated? I want to play them. I want to play them all.”
World No. 8 Petra Kvitova’s preparations for the Australian Open suffered another setback when she was thrashed by Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of the Sydney International yesterday.
The fifth-seeded Czech, who had lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round of the Brisbane International last week, was thumped 6-1, 6-1 by her Slovak opponent at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.
Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki got her preparations for the Australian Open back on track with a confident 6-1, 6-2 win over Poland’s Urszula Radwanska.
AP, HOBART, Australia
American Sloane Stephens broke Laura Robson’s service in the opening game and went on to beat the British player 6-4, 7-6 (4), in a first-round match at the Hobart International yesterday.
Top-seed Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan plays China’s Peng Shuai in a first-round match today.