Andy Murray, last year’s beaten finalist, is aiming to go one better this time around at the Australian Open and lift his first Grand Slam tournament.
Murray feels he is stronger physically and “mentally… in a better place” after a tough regime that has included core strength work, weight sessions, and running on the beach as the Scot prepares for the first Grand Slam of the year.
Following his 6–3, 6–4, 7–6(11) loss to Roger Federer at Melbourne Park in last year’s final, the British number one’s form dropped drastically. Following that loss he did not reach another final until August, when he again lost, this time to American Sam Querrey, in the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, California.
The current world number five did improve shortly following his second final loss of the year though, as he won the Rogers Cup just two weeks on and followed that up with another final victory in the Shanghai Master in October.
In doubles Murray has had a mixed experience recently, winning the Valencia Open in November with older brother Jamie but just last week lost to Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Tommy Robredo in the Hopman Cup with fellow Briton Laura Robson. Murray will not be displeased with the result however, as it gave him some much needed time on court and match fitness before the start of the Australian Open on Monday.
Adding to this will also be his victory over current world number one Rafael Nadal, in the first week of 2011, in the World Tennis Championship. Although the victory came in the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi it will again have helped in Murray’s preparation for next week, both in terms of fitness in the searing heat and confidence; he has won four of his twelve matches with Nadal to date.
Nadal is in the unique position of being able to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time if he wins in Melbourne following his victories at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open last year.
Murray, the tournament’s fifth seed, takes on the world number 104 Karol Beck of Slovakia on Tuesday while Nadal, the number one seed, faces Brazilian Marcos Daniel who is currently ranked 96 in the world.