Update 5:30 pm. A dominant serving display from Andy Murray has helped stave off a late resurgence from an injury-affected Alexandr Dolgopolov to clinch the men’s singles final at the Brisbane International.
Murray, under the watchful eye of new coach Ivan Lendl, firmed as one of the favourites for next week’s Australian Open after the one-sided final, in which he raced to 40-0 on five of his eight service games and dropped serve just once to stamp his authority in a 6-1 6-3 victory.
“I served pretty well again. It got close in the second set and I stayed focused. He was just going for his shots, hit quite a few winners but I didn’t let it get to me,” Murray said.
“It’s good because I could easily have lost second round against [Gilles] Muller but I managed to fight my way through and played three very good matches. I felt like I was moving well right at the end of the week.”
The Ukrainian was clearly hampered by a right thigh injury throughout the encounter and with a game built on explosive footwork, was always going to struggle against one of the game’s sharpest movers unless his own fleet-footed court speed was at 100 per cent.
Playing in only his third tour final, Dolgopolov was not about to let the fans down after a record 92,802 people had flocked to the Queensland Tennis Centre throughout the tournament.
“I just tried to do my best and still stay on the court because the stadium was full and you don’t want to pull out of something like that,” Dolgopolov said.
“[But] you don’t want to also get injured so it was like a fine line to keep healthy and not get worse and to stay out there and show some tennis.”
Unable to generate sufficient leg strength on serve and wary of Murray’s returns dragging him out of position, Dolgopolov was only winning 29 per cent of points when landing his first delievery as the Scot charged to 4-1.
Dolgopolov would wait until he was on the ropes at 5-1 before registering his first point on the Murray serve.
Top seed Murray went on to close out the first set 6-1 in 28 minutes, winning 15 of 17 first-serve points.
With little to lose down a double break in the second, the flashy Dolgopolov wowed the crowd as he started going for clean winners to keep the points shorter.
“That was nice, I just went for the shots, high risk, and got a few games and leave the crowd a bit entertained,” he said before hosing down any concerns of the injury dampening his Australian Open campaign.
A huge running forehand winner landed Dolgopolov his first break of the match and to the delight of the crowd held for 3-4.
Murray knew he only had to be patient and broke Dolgopolov to love to wrap up the decider in 1h 06min.
Afterwards Murray was unfazed at talk of injury scares to key rivals, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, during their Australian Open build-ups in Qatar.
“Before the US Open [people were saying] Rafa’s struggling, Novak’s got a bad shoulder, Roger’s not playing well and every time it’s the same guys in the semifinals and finals of the slams,” Murray said.
“They’ll all be playing great tennis come Australia because that’s where they plan on playing their best tennis and I’m not different from them either. I want to play my best tennis here too.”