Tennis

/ News

  • Australian Open

'Maturing' Murray a 'different player'

ESPN staff
January 27, 2012 « 'Bullet' sent to QPR defender Ferdinand | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray said he was 'proud of the way I fought' © PA Photos
Enlarge

A resolute Andy Murray insisted he was 'closing the gap' on the world's top three despite losing a heartbreaking five-set marathon in the Australian Open semi-finals to Novak Djokovic.

Murray and Djokovic slugged it out for nearly five hours before the Serb completed a thrilling 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 victory to set up a meeting with world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final.

Following the epic battle, Murray remained optimistic over his chances of catching Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer, the Scot insisting he is gaining ground on the trio widely considered to be some of the greatest players of all time.

"I think that gap, I feel tonight I closed it," said Murray. "My job over the next two or three months is to surpass him [Djokovic] and the guys in front of me."

Murray, who lost to Djokovic in straight sets in last year's Australian Open final, says there is still further improvements he can make as he chases that elusive first grand slam title.

"Everybody matures at different ages and different rates. I feel now like I'm ready mentally [to challenge the top three]," he said.

"Physically I can still get better, for sure. But in comparison to how I played last year, it was much, much better. Tonight's match was important for many reasons. Obviously I wanted to win first and foremost, but after last year, the year that Novak had, I think there's a very fine line between being number one in the world and being three or four."

Murray, who will go home for a rest before resuming his season, said he is looking forward to building upon his encouraging start with new coach Ivan Lendl - the winner of eight grand slam titles.

"I enjoyed it [working with Lendl during the tournament]. I feel like, you know, when you look up at someone like that in the stands it helps. Obviously for me, I want to try and repay the sort of faith that he's shown in me by coming to work with me. So I would have liked to have done obviously better here.

"But, you know, I haven't spoke to him too much yet. Hopefully he was happy with the way I did and how I acted on the court. Hopefully at the French Open I'll do a little bit better.

"I want to work on all parts of my game. I thought I played pretty well up at the net this tournament, which was good and it's something I'll need to keep improving. You can always make every shot more consistent, and there's one thing I need to do way better, because that's how close I was this evening. It's minor things.

"[I'm] a different player, a different attitude to this time last year. I'm proud of the way I fought.

"I haven't sat down and spoke to Ivan, you know, about what I'm going to work on over the next two or three months in the build-up to Indian Wells and Miami yet, but I'm sure we'll have that conversation when the time is right. Probably not tomorrow, but a week or so."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Close