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Brisbane International: Andy Murray falls to Grigor Dimitrov in his first match of the year despite strong start

Andy Murray had his first match of the year on New Year's Day in Brisbane, losing 6-4 5-7 2-6 to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov; The Brisbane International is live on Sky Sports with Rafael Nadal making his return to tennis from 8.30am on Tuesday

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Andy Murray showed his class with an impressive forehand winner in his clash with Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International

Andy Murray began what could be his final season against Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International on New Year’s Day.

Murray looked to be in command as he won the first set, but ultimately momentum switched to Dimitrov who won 4-6 7-5 6-2.

Bulgaria's Dimitrov was seeded second in this tournament, while the British star has been recovering from injury worries that plagued him at the end of last year.

Both Murray and Dimitrov began strongly, with each holding serve through the first nine games of the first set with neither gaining a break point.

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Highlights of Andy Murray against Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International.

Then all of a sudden, after Dimitrov errors, Murray claimed two set points. He only needed one. Another miss from Dimitrov saw him take the first set 6-4.

Murray showed the quality of his play at the beginning of the second set, artfully manoeuvring the ball round Dimitrov.

But in a change of tempo in the contest both players started looking more vulnerable on their serves.

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Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts after winning the first set in his match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Image: Murray is frustrated against Dimitrov in Brisbane

The Scotsman pushed for a breakpoint in the eighth game of the second set but Dimitrov resisted the pressure, winning that game with an aggressive volley.

In the next Dimitrov kept himself in rallies and took Murray to breakpoint himself.

Murray delivered an ace to fend that threat off but Dimitrov repeatedly dragged him back to deuce and eventually claimed a valuable break.

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That saw the Bulgarian serving to win the second set. But Murray drew another error, Dimitrov mishitting to give him a break point. Murray took the opportunity and levelled up the set by breaking his opponent in the very next game.

Dimitrov still came roaring back. Murray gave away two break points and was frustrated when he tapped the ball into the net to give the game away.

That handed the Bulgarian another chance to serve for the set. He battled through, taking the set 7-5, to carry the match into a decider.

For Murray a disastrous start to the final set saw Dimitrov break his serve in the first game, without the Scotsman winning a point.

Nor could Murray hold serve in the third game, Dimitrov breaking him four times in a row.

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Grigor Dimitrov hit this sensational shot with a broken string during in his match against Andy Murray at The Brisbane International.

The British star managed to claw two games back but continued to struggle. He still fought to the end, with Dimitrov having to defend a break point to get to deuce in the eighth game of the set.

The Bulgarian held firm and took the match with a final ace.

With strings breaking, Dimitrov went through a number of rackets over the course of the match. "I was running out," he said afterwards. "I had three more left.

"I was thinking about that. Luckily we were not playing best of five.

"When the conditions are that humid the string is really vulnerable as you can see. It is what it is. You have to overcome any obstacles that you have. I think hopefully it's just this week and when I get to Melbourne I'm not going to have those problems but it's okay. I'm going to order some more rackets just in case."

Dimitrov can be satisfied with how he came back to beat Murray. "Here we go, kicking off a new year," he said.

"I had to keep on fighting, I had to keep on finding my shots and going after my game. I had to keep on believing in the work that I've put in.

"I just really want to enjoy every single time that I get out here and I don't take it for granted."

The Brisbane International continues this week on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix with Rafael Nadal making his return to tennis from 8.30am on Tuesday.

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