Andy Murray’s quest for his first ATP title since October 2019 ended in a direct defeat to Russia’s best seedman Aslan Karatsev in the Sydney Classic final.
The British, whose last victory in Antwerp came nine months after hip surgery, lost to the world number 6-3 6-3.
Murray was broken in the opening game and struggled for the first serve in the set, where Karatsev defeated him.
Murray lost his first gem in the second set, and a single break was enough for Karatsev to win.
Murray created five break opportunities in the fifth game of the second set, but Karatsev saved them all and returned to the beat to get to the title.
The 28-year-old Karatsev, who remained to serve, faltered as Murray saved two championship points before the Russian – a surprising Australian Open semifinalist in 2021 – secured his third ATP title in his career.
Murray then thanked his team, which recently included coach Jan de Witt, for “all the help” in reaching the final in Sydney.
“For the first time in the finals after three years, it was a long way to come back here, but without your help I wouldn’t have made it, so thank you,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank my family at home. I don’t know if you watched, but I miss you all.”
Despite the disappointment of the defeat, the world 135 may have a positive effect on the whole week.
In general, the three-time Grand Slam champion moved well around the court and his service, at least before the final against Karatsev, was particularly strong.
The 34-year-old Scot is heading to Melbourne, where the Australian Open begins on Monday.
Murray, the five-time finalist of the inaugural grand slam of the season, will face the Georgian 21st seeded Nikolaos Basilashvili in the first round on Tuesday.