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.

CSHS pulls off monstrous production in style

The matinee performance of Chinchilla State High School's musical The Addams Family. 200517

CSHS' The Addams Family Musical full of music, monsters and laughs

WDRC locks into Access Hong Kong

INVESTMENT: WDRC CEO Ross Musgrove, TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles and WDRC mayor Paul McVeigh at the TSBE November Enterprise Evening in Dalby.

Two council representatives off to Hong Kong

Fatality Free Friday is almost here

DRIVE SAFELY: Grant Arnold from GC Driving School urges drivers to be defensive on the roads.

Join the challenge to have zero deaths on Aussie roads this Friday.

Local Partners

Rebel Wilson says she didn’t have to lie to make it

I’M not glamorous, but that doesn’t make me a liar: that’s the message from Rebel Wilson on her second day in the witness box.

All bets on Judah to win battle to become the Voice

Judah Kelly from The Voice.

Judah Kelly is the clear favourite to win the competition.

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

Kim Kardashian's tribute to Manchester didn't go down well

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!