x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Djokovic sounds Australian Open warning as Murray retains Brisbane title

The Olympic champion was made to work to retain his title against up-and-coming Buglarian Grigor Dimitrov, while Djokovic lost out in the final of the Hopman Cup as he prepares for next week's first Grand Slam of the year.

Andy Murray with the Brisbane International trophy after his win over Grigor Dimitrov.
Andy Murray with the Brisbane International trophy after his win over Grigor Dimitrov.

Andy Murray needed all his experience to overcome rising Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov and retain his Brisbane International title.

Having beaten Dimitrov the only other time they had met - in Bangkok in 2011 - Murray could have been forgiven for being confident but he did not have it all his own way against an opponent ranked 48 in the world.

First-time finalist Dimitrov got off to a storming start, winning 11 of the first 12 points and breaking Murray in game two to go 3-0 up.

But Murray broke back as Dimitrov served for the set at 5-3, then forced a tie-break which he took to love.

Dimitrov blasted a forehand winner down the line to hold serve for 2-2 as the second set went with serve.

A deciding set looked possible when the Bulgarian broke to lead 4-3 but Murray took the next two games to go 5-4 ahead.

With the set back on serve Murray broke once more to retain the title.

"I needed to change things around a little bit and I managed to start dictating a lot of points and use my forehand well," Murray admitted afterwards.

"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."

Meanwhile world number one Novak Djokovic sounded a warning to his Australian Open rivals after suffering a narrow defeat in the Hopman Cup final.

Djokovic, who won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last week, and Ana Ivanovic were defeated by Spaniards Anabel Medina Garrigues and Fernando Verdasco in the mixed teams decider

"I will have my revenge in Melbourne in a week," Djokovic said afterwards with a laugh.

While the Serbian pair suffered their third near-miss at the Hopman Cup, Djokovic rounded out his Australian Open preparation in fine style, beating former top 10 player Verdasco in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.

That result followed an impeccable performance against Germany's Tommy Haas on Friday, with Djokovic winning 6-2, 6-0.

Although he had a shock loss to young Australian Bernard Tomic earlier in the tournament, Djokovic was pleased with the improvement in his singles form during the Hopman Cup.

"I've been trying to play my best tennis and prepare for Melbourne, the last few days I have been striking the ball better," Djokovic said.

"Last few matches was really good, I'm happy with the way I'm playing and another eight days of really good practice and I'm fit for Australian Open.

"I've been using this kind of preparation routine for few years now."

Djokovic said playing in Abu Dhabi and the Hopman Cup had given him plenty of match time ahead of the year's first Grand Slam, which starts Monday week.