SYDNEY: World number 20 Aslan Karatsev produced a masterclass yesterday to power past Andy Murray in the Sydney Classic final, signaling his intent of making another deep run at the Australian Open. The No1 seed won 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes, hitting 29 winners in a near-flawless performance that left the three-time Grand Slam champion out of answers.

“Thanks to my team we are doing an amazing job,” Karatsev said during the awards presentation. Karatsev created history at last year’s Australian Open after becoming the first Grand Slam debutant to reach a semi-final since the Open era began in 1968. After his emphatic victory, the 28-year-old will be confident entering Melbourne Park having stymied Murray’s bid to win a title for the first time since 2019. “First time back in a final for three years, it’s been a long road,” an emotional Murray said at the presentation.

Murray, who has been given a wildcard into next week’s Australian Open, had been encouraged by his play heading into a Grand Slam where he has finished as runner-up five times. But Murray, who had undergone career-saving hip surgery, was blown off the court by the red-hot Russian. His serve was under immediate pressure as Karatsev muscled him around the court to gain the break in the opening game. Karatsev continued to stand and deliver, piercing the lines to run Murray ragged.

A double fault from the Scot handed Karatsev the first set and the Russian then stormed to a 3-0 lead. Murray showed trademark fight and had opportunities to break in an epic fifth game but Karatsev held on and then motored to victory. Karatsev, who had knocked out Murray’s British compatriot Dan Evans in a three-set semi-final thriller on Friday, plays world number 72 Jaume Munar of Spain in the first round of the Australian Open. Murray has an intriguing opener against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili who he beat in three sets in the round of 16 in Sydney. —AFP