BRISBANE, Australia — His voice cracking, an emotional Andy Murray used his victory speech to offer encouragement to an absent friend.
Murray kicked off 2013 with a successful defense of his Brisbane International title, holding off Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (0), 6-4 on Sunday.
“I’d like to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends,” Murray said. “Thank you very much. He’s back home watching and, you’re going to get through.”
He signed what appeared to say “For You Perched” on a small plaque after the match, but wouldn’t disclose the identity of his friend.
Murray began his breakthrough season in 2012 by winning in Brisbane and tacked on career-changing titles at the London Olympics and U.S. Open.
The Australian Open starts Jan. 14, and Murray heads to the first major of the season without the enormous pressure he had a year ago. The 76-year drought for British men at the majors is over, so he doesn’t have to answer those questions now.
The 25-year-old Scot started slowly against Dimitrov and had to recover breaks in both sets. He was happy with the payoff from his concerted efforts to work on playing aggressively.
“I got off to not the best start and he was playing very aggressive, and by the end of the first set I had turned the tables,” he said.
“It’s a change of mentality really, and that doesn’t happen in a few weeks. It’s taken time to believe that that’s the right thing to do, to be aggressive.”
SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL: In Sydney, Caroline Wozniacki beat Poland’s Urszula Radwanska 6-1, 6-2 in hot conditions Sunday in the first round.
After starting the season with an upset first-round loss to qualifier Ksenia Pervak at the Brisbane International, the seventh-seeded Wozniacki needed just 26 minutes to win the first set with boyfriend and top-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy watching at Sydney Olympic Park.
Dominika Cibulkova. of Slovakia. beat 2011 Wimbledon champion and fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova. of the Czech Republic. 6-1, 6-1.
Maria Kirilenko, playing her first match since becoming engaged to Washington Capitals hockey star and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, beat Australian wild-card entry Olivia Rogowska 7-5, 6-2.
The men’s tournament starts today.
CHENNAI OPEN: In Chennai, India, second-seeded Janko Tipsarevic beat Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the final.
Bautista-Agut, who beat top-seeded Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, seemed to struggle with a leg injury and needed on-court treatment during the second set.