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Murray can end season as No. 1 - Nadal

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal has offered words of encouragement to Andy Murray © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal feels Andy Murray could end 2012 as the world's top-ranked player, despite the Scot suffering another grand-slam heartbreak at the Australian Open on Friday.

Murray lost at the semi-final stage to Novak Djokovic, coming off second best following a five-set battle that lasted ten minutes short of five hours. The British No. 1 has now reached at least the semi of each of the last five slams, yet is still to lift any of the trophies.

However, Nadal feels the sky is the limit for Murray if he can discover a little more mental resilience under the guidance of new coach Ivan Lendl, who also needed a few losing finals before winning his first slam.

"He [Murray] can be No. 1 at the end of the season," Nadal said to australianopen.com. "I don't have any doubt on that. The level is there. When you are able to play how many, five grand slams in a row playing semi-finals or final, it's only a mental thing.

"The rest of the things are there. He started the season another time playing very well winning a tournament, playing semi-finals here, and was a few points away from a win against the No. 1 player of the world. He's ready for everything."

Meanwhile, Nadal admits it is unfair that he has been given longer to recover for the Australian Open final than opponent Djokovic has. "That's what it is. In 2009 I played longer than him in the semi-finals," Nadal said. "I played more than five hours at very high intensity, too. I had only one day and [Roger] Federer had two, no?

"I was recovered for the final, so I think you can say it's unfair, yes, but not crazy unfair. Really unfair is the US Open when you don't have a day off between the semi-finals and final. That's really unfair.

"If the match of yesterday happened in the US Open and the other semi-final is in straight sets, you are in big trouble for the finals. Having one day off, I believe you are not in big trouble."

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