Tennis

Murray bullish despite sorry Australian Open record

Murray's lost four finals at Melbourne Park, but remains bullish

Andy Murray said his past disappointments would have no bearing on today's title match against Novak Djokovic, as he looks to end a run of four near-misses by finally winning the Australian Open.

Murray admitted he was the firm underdog against five-time champion Djokovic, who has beaten him three times in the Melbourne Park final in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Murray also lost to Roger Federer in 2010.

The world No. 2 has ridden a roller coaster at this year's tournament, distracted by his wife's pregnancy and the collapse of his father-in-law Nigel Sears at Rod Laver Arena, which prompted him to consider pulling out.

Despite the difficulties, and his string of disappointments in the Melbourne final, the Scot believes in his chances of stopping Djokovic claiming a record-equalling sixth Australian Open win.

"I don't think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday," Murray said yesterday.

"I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.

"But the previous disappointments, it's one tennis match. Doesn't matter what's happened in the past really. It's about what happens on Sunday."

While Murray is attempting to become the first man in the post-1968 Open era to win the Australian Open after losing four finals, Djokovic has been sweeping all before him.

The Serb, who fell just one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015, demolished 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in a sublime semi-final featuring two spellbinding opening sets.

But Murray is focusing on what he has to do to deny Djokovic, who is seeking an 11th Grand Slam title to draw level with tennis greats Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on the all-time list.

Murray, bidding to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since Fred Perry in 1934, knows he can match the dazzling Djokovic, but it's whether he can keep it up for long enough.

"Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn't miles apart. It was a very close match for three sets," he said.

"The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there."I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That's my challenge on Sunday."

Djokovic wore down Murray in four gruelling sets to win last year's Melbourne final, with the opening two sets lasting two-and-a-half hours.

The odds are again stacked against the combative Scot. He has one fewer day's rest after Djokovic beat Federer on Thursday, and was taken to five sets by Milos Raonic in their semi-final on Friday.

But Murray is already proud of his achievements at the Australian Open, even if he is yet to be crowned the champion.

"Five finals is a great achievement. You can't take that away from me. I should be happy about that," he said.

"There're very few players who will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.

"Obviously when you get to the final you're disappointed if you don't win. But I've played very good tennis here. I've given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis." - AFP.

ANDY MURRAY

World ranking: 2

Birthdate: May 15, 1987

Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Residence: London

Height: 1.90m

Weight: 84kg

Plays: Right-handed

Turned pro: 2005

Coach: Amelie Mauresmo

Career singles titles: 35

Grand Slam singles titles: 2

Career prize money: US$42,435,316

Best Australian Open result: Runner-up (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015)

The tenacious Scot is into his fifth Australian Open final and is hoping to become the first man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after coming runner-up four times.

Murray lost to Roger Federer in 2010 and fell to Novak Djokovic in his other three finals in 2011, 2013 and last year. He is bidding to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since Fred Perry in 1934.

Murray has two Grand Slam titles to his name, from the 2012 US Open and Wimbledon the following year.

It has been a difficult Australian Open for Murray with his father-in-law Nigel Sears collapsing at the tournament and taken to hospital before being allowed to return home, while his wife, Kim, is about to give birth to the couple's first child.

Murray won four tournaments last season, including two Masters titles, and finished the year as world No. 2 for the first time. He also led Britain to their first Davis Cup title since 1936, against Belgium in November.

PATH TO THE FINAL

(prefix denotes seeding)

1st round bt Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-2, 6-3

2nd round bt Sam Groth 6-0, 6-4, 6-1

3rd round bt 32-Joao Sousa 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2

4th round bt 16-Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4)

QF bt 8-David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4, 7-5

SF bt 13-Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. - AFP.

australian openANDY MURRAY