Andy Murray beaten by Grigor Dimitrov in first round at Brisbane International

Scot's three-set defeat will hamper his build-up to Australian Open

Andy Murray was beaten by Grigor Dimitrov despite winning the first set in their first-round match at the Brisbane International. EPA
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Andy Murray’s preparations for the Australian Open suffered a setback following a frustrating first-round loss to second seed Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International.

The unseeded Scot was on course to advance after taking the opening set of a tense battle between two former tournament champions on Pat Rafter Arena.

But Dimitrov hit back to progress 4-6 7-5 6-2 and inflict another early exit on Murray following his second-round victory when the pair met at last year’s US Open.

The world number 14 will face either Australian qualifier Li Tu or Germany’s Daniel Altmaier in round two.

Murray was playing his first competitive singles match since a first-round loss to Alex de Minaur at the Paris Masters in late October after a shoulder injury ruled him out of representing Great Britain in the Davis Cup finals.

The 36-year-old initially impressed during a tight encounter that remained on serve until he capitalised on an error-strewn 10th game from his opponent to clinch the opening set.

But Dimitrov calmly responded to force a decider by edging a more chaotic second set that ended with both players struggling to hold serve.

The Bulgarian’s efforts to level were aided by saving a crucial break point with a stunning baseline smash while playing with a broken string.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray was visibly annoyed by the momentum shift and offered little resistance in a relatively one-sided final set as Dimitrov won in just under two-and-a-half hours.

Afterwards Dimitrov, the champion in 2017, said: "I've really missed this tournament. Here we go, kicking off the new year in style.

"I just wanted to carry [last season] on. Of course, it's never easy, especially when you're playing so well at the end of the year, you put pressure on yourself to start well.

"As soon as I came out here today, I felt a little bit rusty to be honest. I have to keep on fighting, I have to keep on believing in the work that I've put in."

Updated: January 01, 2024, 4:39 PM