Sport

Murray craves elusive Australian Open crown

Andy Murray of Great Britain during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open.
Andy Murray of Great Britain during a practice session ahead of the Australian Open. JULIAN SMITH

HE'S got the world No.1 ranking, two Wimbledon crowns ... and now a knighthood.

But the title Sir Andy Murray still craves but has so far eluded him is "Australian Open champion”.

The 29-year-old Brit has made the final at Melbourne Park five times - in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 - without success.

Four of those defeats have been at the hands of his greatest rival Novak Djokovic, who will this year be aiming for a record seventh major in the Victorian capital.

Due to their respective histories at the first grand slam tournament of the year and his win over Murray in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha last week, Djokovic has been installed as favourite to again hold the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

Djokovic has beaten Murray at the Australian Open five times in total - also getting the better of him in a semi-final in 2012.

But, having been at the peak of his powers for the past six months - and on top of the world for the past 10 weeks since usurping Djokovic as No.1 - Murray is confident of finally conquering Down Under, even if the hunter has suddenly become the hunted.

"I don't feel like I have mental hurdles now,” Murray told The Times. "I feel like I'm past that, to be honest.”

For 'Sir Andy', it's just a matter of executing correctly - something he was reminded of during his latest stoush with "The Djoker” in the Middle East.

"I think I just need to work on my offensive game,” said Murray, who won an ATP-best nine titles in 2016.

"Against Novak (in Doha) I was actually pretty good when I started moving forward, dictated quite a few points, but not as much as I would have liked.

"I was maybe a little bit too far behind the baseline at times.

"There's not loads that I need to work on, I feel like I'm playing good tennis, moving well. A few specifics and I will be all right.”

Djokovic, also 29, will of course have other ideas. Melbourne Park has, after all, become the Serb's own personal happy hunting ground since he broke through for a maiden major there in 2008.

He's lost only once in Melbourne in the past six years - a quarter-final to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka in 2014 - for an incredible 57-6 (90.5%) record.

Djokovic, who matched Roy Emerson's record of six titles (1961, 1963-67) in Melbourne last year, will have regained confidence from his 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory against Murray last week, which gave him an overall 25-11 ascendency between the pair.

"Andy has absolutely deserved to be the No.1 in the world. He's had a tremendous and special last six months of 2016,” said Djokovic, who would need to win the tournament and Murray to be bundled out in the quarters to take back the No.1 ranking he held for 122 straight weeks, and 223 all up, before being overtaken in November.

"This year we've already played a thrilling match and I'm looking forward to our rivalry and many matches to come. In terms of my feelings in coming to Melbourne for the last five or six years, it's pretty much the same.

"I'm very pumped, if I may say, to do well. It's the beginning of the season and we already have our first grand slam.

"I'm not the only one who is excited but it definitely gives me a lot of goosebumps to come back.”

The Australian Open will be far from a two-horse race however, with third-seeded Milos Raonic and fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka both clear and present dangers.

Wawrinka won the last major, the US Open, to add to his 2014 Australian title, while Raonic was a semi-finalist last year before reaching the final of Wimbledon.

BRIT'S BAD RUN

Andy Murray's losing Australian Open finals

2010 - Federer d Murray 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11)

2011 - Djokovic d Murray 6-4 6-2 6-3

2013 - Djokovic d Murray 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-2

2015 - Djokovic d Murray 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0

2016 - Djokovic d Murray 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-3)

Topics:  andy murray australian open novak djokovic summer of tennis


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Lismore's kids head back to school

COOL: Max Den Exter gets a short, back and sides from Jasmine Coello while Peter Crowley from Pomstar at The Star Court Arcade looks on.

Time to get your grooming in check for start of new school term

Creative thinking sparks a bright future for Northern Rivers

Jarrad and Ben McCredie with their dad, Manufacturing and Engineering instructor, Alex, taking part in the Printing a New Path Forward workshop at the Next Generation of Innovators Bright Sparks 2017 program at Wollongbar TAFE.

Students peek inside the classrooms of the future

PM loses a mate in Mike Baird

Mungo Mac Callum. Photo Doug Eaton / The Northern Star

Baird resignation leads to comparisons between two leaders

Local Partners

Lion roars to straight to No 1 at Aussie box office

Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion.

THE Australian-made movie a hit, while Rogue One nears record mark.

Ozzy Osbourne fell asleep during his driving test

Not a good idea to give Ozzy a Ferrari

Kristen Stewart to host SNL

Kristen Stewart will host a pre-Super Bowl episode of SNL next month

Louis Tomlinson celebrated his son's first birthday

Louis Tomlinson and Briana Jungwirth celebrate son's first birthday

Five local arts organisations funded by federal grants

LOCALLY MADE: A performance of Dreamland by NORPA at Eureka Hall during their 2016 season, with actors Kirk Page, Katia Molino, Darcy Grant, Philip Blakcman and Toni Scanlon.

In theatre, literature, music and visual arts

Kylie Minogue will take husband's name

Kylie Minogue will take her fiancé Joshua Sasse's surname

Why investors are flocking to Moranbah

Moranbah homes are selling like hotcakes, creating a supply problem

Investors are scrambling to get into the market

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

'Difficult times': Rental prices tipped to increase in 2017

GREAT BUYS: There are some great rentals and houses to buy in South Gladstone. Head to gladstoneobserver.com.au for the top 10 homes under $100 to rent right now in the Gladstone region.

Investors may soon see a "profitable return” on properties.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!