Murray eyes “big upset” in final

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Published: Saturday 31st January 2015 by The News Editor

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Andy Murray gave rather short shrift to a question about his place among British sporting greats as he prepared to face Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Australian Open final.

But the Scot rightly believes any titles he wins in an era featuring three of the greatest players of all time are worth more than the bare statistics would suggest.

Murray is seeking his third grand slam title in Melbourne and would be the first man in the open era to triumph in Melbourne having lost his first three finals.

Compared to the 17 titles of Roger Federer, 14 of Rafael Nadal and seven of Djokovic three may seem a relatively small return, until it is remembered that Murray’s eight grand slam finals have been against just two players; three against Federer and now five against Djokovic.

Previous Australian Open finals have featured the likes of Arnaud Clement, Rainer Schuettler and Thomas Enqvist, but Murray has not been so lucky and feels it would be a “big upset” if he beat four-time champion Djokovic.

“I know it’s going to be e xtremely difficult to win the match tomorrow,” said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in the final here in 2011 and 2013 but beat the Serbian to win his grand slam titles in the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon a year later.

“I know if I want to win it will probably be very, very tough and challenging physically. So I need to prepare myself mentally for that. But he has a fantastic record here. He obviously loves the court and the conditions. It would be a big upset if I manage to win tomorrow.”

Djokovic, who has a 15-8 record against Murray, claimed there was no clear favourite for the final, but the Briton added: ” I played him a couple times the end of last year and lost pretty comfortably. For me it would be a big turnaround in a few months if I was able to win.

“I’m not saying it’s not a possibility, but it’s going to be very, very tough.”

Victory on Sunday would leave Murray just needing to win the French Open to complete a full set of grand slam titles, the 27-year-old adding: ” W inning three of four slams in this era seems like nothing because of everything that the other guys have done. But it’s a very difficult thing to do. So whether I win tomorrow or not, I still feel like my record here has been a good one.

“T he time I’m competing in just now is extremely challenging. Anything I achieve I’m very proud of because of the players that I’m competing against currently.”

Murray began the championship ranked sixth in the world but is guaranteed to regain his place among the “big four” when the new rankings are released on Monday, and would climb to third if he can lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

“Obviously any time you’re moving up the rankings suggests you’re doing something well,” Murray said. “I t shows as well that last year, although it was a tough year, it wasn’t that bad.

“I knew I needed to work on a lot of things, but I also believed that with the right attitude and the right work ethic and the right people behind me that I’d be able to get back to playing my best again, because there were periods in the year where I did feel like I was able to do it. I wasn’t necessarily sustaining it for whole matches and whole tournaments. That is what I really needed to change.”

Murray decided the “right people” meant former world number one Amelie Mauresmo and t he pair began working together in June last year, but soon came under scrutiny after Murray’s tame quarter-final exit as reigning Wimbledon champion.

Mauresmo revealed that Murray’s motivation had suffered in the wake of some disappointing results following back surgery the previous September, adding: ” Communication between us was pretty fast and understanding moved over time. He is someone who has a lot of humour, we can make fun of each other.

“But he is also ultra-professional. He works like crazy, he has a real desire to excel and push the limits and to leave nothing to chance. My arrival was a bit difficult due to his back injury and there was also a lack of motivation at that time. But he’s a great player and he did not wait for me to be there to be a great player.”

Murray has dropped just two sets on his way to the final in Melbourne and Mauresmo added: “H e has found a very high level for the first time in a long time. A gainst Djokovic it will be a big fight. They know each other very well.

“In recent matches that I’ve seen Andy has largely lost, so he must raise his level of play, be enterprising. He may have very few opportunities so he will need to take them.”

Murray has the theoretical advantage of having played his semi-final on Thursday, 24 hours before Djokovic beat defending champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets, although in four of the past seven years the man playing the second semi-final has won the title.

“A couple of years ago I played Novak in the semi-final and I could barely walk a couple of days later, but he recovered from a five-hour match and then won the final in six hours,” Murray said. “I don’t know how he did it.”

Published: Saturday 31st January 2015 by The News Editor

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