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Russian-Israeli tennis player Karatsev beats British Murray to win tournament in Sydney

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SYDNEY — Aslan Karatsev, the 20th-ranked tennis player in the world, produced a masterclass on Saturday to beat Andy Murray in the Sydney Classic final, signaling his intentions to make another deep run at the Australian Open.

The tournament’s No. 1 won 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes, hitting 29 winners in an almost flawless performance that left the three-time Grand Slam champion with no answers.

“Thanks to my team, we are doing a great job,” Karatsev said at the award ceremony.

Karatsev made history at the Australian Open last year after becoming the first Grand Slam debutant to reach a semifinal since the start of the Open era in 1968.

Karatsev plays for the Russian national side but grew up and trained in Israel and is fluent in Hebrew.

Following his emphatic victory, the 28-year-old will confidently enter Melbourne Park, having thwarted Murray’s bid to win a title for the first time since 2019.

“The first time in a final in three years, it’s been a long road,” said an emotional Murray during the presentation.

Andy Murray of Great Britain during a practice session at the John Cain Arena at the Summer Set tennis tournament ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, on January 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Murray, who has been given a wild card to next week’s Australian Open, was encouraged by his play towards a Grand Slam, where he finished runner-up five times.

But Murray, who had undergone career-saving hip surgery, was blown off the field by the red-hot Russian-Israeli player.

His serve was immediately under pressure as Karatsev stretched him around the field to take the break in the opening game.

Karatsev stopped and delivered, poking through the lines to run Murray in rags.

A double foul by the Scot gave Karatsev the first set and then the Russian stormed to a 3-0 lead.

Murray showed a signature fight and had chances to break into an epic fifth game, but Karatsev held on and rode to victory.

Karatsev, who knocked out Murray’s British compatriot Dan Evans on Friday in a three-set thriller in the semi-final, will face the world’s number 72 against Spain’s Jaume Munar in the first round of the Australian Open.

Murray has an intriguing opener against 21st seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, whom he defeated in three sets in the round of 16 in Sydney.

Karatsev was born in Vladikavkaz, Russia, but moved to Israel when he was three years old and started playing there.

I grew up there, practiced there until I was 12, and then I moved back to Russia with my father. Then I lived in Rostov. I practiced there until I was 18, then I started practicing in Moscow, he said in an interview last year.

Although he clearly showed potential, financial hardships prevented Karatsev from developing his natural talent in Israel and he eventually returned to Russia with his father. His mother and sister remained in Israel.

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