Abu Dhabi: With the World No. 1 tag against his name, Andy Murray is keen to conquer a frontier where he has repeatedly failed at the last hurdle — The Australian Open.
For a staggering five times, the Scot has had to settle for the runner-up spot in the season’s first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park. In 2010, Murray lost to Roger Federer, but Serbian star Novak Djokovic has been the biggest nemeses of Murray ‘Down Under’.
He has fallen prey to Djokovic’s guile four times — 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016. Certainly a hard pill to swallow and a record he would like to set right this time round, especially after his career-best 2016 season.
For Murray, everything that he does from now is understandably all about finding that perfect formula that could help him break the Australian Open jinx.
“I hope to win, there is no guarantee but I have played well there in the past. I need to do something different but I love the conditions there and enjoy the tournament a lot. Hopefully, playing well with a lot of confidence with the way I finished 2016 I can do that,” said Murray, while speaking to the scribes at the Godiva Chocolate Café at the Galleria Mall in the capital ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship.
“I tend to set more short-term goals and that’s what suits well for me. In the past when I have looked back, say five, six months ahead, that hasn’t been good for me. Once the Australian Open is done, then it is four to five months for the next slam. That’s the period I have struggled in the past; that’s the period I need to stay focused. Sometimes in Indian Wells in Miami I haven’t played that well in the past and I would like to do a better job with that next year,” said Murray, who will be meeting the winner of the first round match between David Goffin and Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the semis here on Friday.
The year 2016 couldn’t have been more special for Murray as he became a father, triumphantly defended his Olympic title in Rio and won nine titles, including Wimbledon in his own backyard and, as the icing on the cake, the season-ending ATP World Tour finals.
“I think I’m most proud of the Olympics second gold, that was special. The hardest was getting to No. 1 because Olympics is just one event but getting to No. 1 took me the whole year. Right to the last tournament to the last match of the year to finish No. 1,” said Murray, recalling that it was really hard and took a lot from him physically and mentally to get there.
“At the end of the year, I was really really tired, more tired than I have been at the end of any season I have finished before. It took a lot out of me,” added Murray, who went on to reveal that the off-season break allowed him much-needed rest and time to reflect on what he achieved.
“I took a few weeks off after the ATP tour finals. I didn’t pick up a racket for a couple of weeks and didn’t train at all and that was needed to reflect a little bit and rest physically and mentally.
“It was the best sort of five to six months of my tennis career by far. Then I started to think about next year when I started my training in Miami building for the Australian Open,” said Murray, who will be taking the same route that Djokovic is taking in the run-up to the Australian Open.
The duo will both figure in the Qatar Open next week and the Scot will be hoping to make an early statement against his arch rival in the Qatari capital Doha.
“It hasn’t worked for me at the Aussie Open in the last few years. Probably nothing to do with my preparations, but it splits the journey a little bit as well. There was a chance that maybe my family was going to come here as well. “So, to split that trip up from doing one long trip to Australia might have helped, but I have enjoyed playing in Abu Dhabi and Doha in the past. Seems to have worked well for Novak as well over the years; hopefully it works for me too.”