London: Andy Murray says he does not have a mental block when it comes to the Australian Open despite losing the final of the opening Grand Slam of the season five times.
The 29-year-old world No. 1 — whose season opened with a defeat in the Qatar Open to Novak Djokovic — told The Times in an interview he had also pondered over whether he should accept the knighthood he received in the New Year’s Honours list.
Murray, who is in Australia preparing for next week’s Aussie Open, is adamant he no longer has issues over tournaments he has yet to win.
“I don’t feel like I have mental hurdles now,” said Murray.
“I feel like I’m past that, to be honest.
“I just go there and give my best to win. So long as I give my best effort, I don’t judge myself or feel like I’ve failed here (Melbourne) or anything like that.”
Murray, who had a memorable year in 2016 becoming Britain’s first tennis No. 1 of the professional era and won Wimbledon and defended his Olympic singles title, admitted he had conferred with those closest to him — but not his brother Jamie — over whether to accept the knighthood when he was offered it in the middle of December.
“I spoke to a few of the people closest to me. I didn’t have too long, but obviously you think about something like that because I do feel like it’s obviously a big honour to be offered that, but with that comes maybe a little bit more responsibility,” said Murray.
“I’m still very young, I’m still competing and obviously don’t want anything to distract me or affect my performance on the court.”
“I kept it fairly quiet and just spoke to the people that I was closest with and explained what the situation was. I just tried to get the best advice possible.”
Murray is clear, though, how he wishes to be addressed by his rivals on the circuit.
“A few of the players have been chatting to me about it and asking how it works, what does it mean and what do we call you,” Murray said.
“Andy is fine.”
Murray, whose win in the 2012 US Open was the first in a Grand Slam by a British tennis male tennis player since Fred Perry in 1936, says another thing that has changed as he has matured is how he reacts to personal criticism.
“When you are comfortable like that with who you are, someone saying that you’re boring or miserable or whatever it is, it doesn’t affect you like it does when you are younger and you are still not sure of yourself,” said Murray.
“When you are growing up in the spotlight and you don’t know exactly who you are or what you’re going to become, that’s probably a bit more difficult.”
Murray, who says he likes to organise his schedule so he can see his daughter Sophia and wife Kim every fortnight, received a flood of congratulations when he became No. 1 but two phone messages, left by two sporting giants, in particular touched him.
“I got one from Alex Ferguson and one from Jose Mourinho,” said Murray.
“That was pretty cool. I obviously watch a lot of football and they are two of the most respected and best managers in one of the hardest sports to succeed in at the highest level. That was pretty nice.”
Indeed such is Murray’s affinity with ‘the beautiful game’ he would like to be involved in the sport when the day finally comes to put away his racquet, although he would also like to coach a British player.
“I would like to do something in football,” said Murray, whose grandfather Roy Erskine played for historic Scottish club Hibernian in the 1950’s.
“I watch loads of it. I am into my fantasy sports a lot.”