World No 1 insists there’s no jinx at Australian Open
I don’t feel like I have mental hurdles now. I feel like I’m past that, to be honest. I just show up and give my best to win.” Andy Murray, on his chances at the Australian Open
Andy Murray insists he does not have a mental block when it comes to the Australian Open, despite losing the final of the season-opening Grand Slam five times.
The 29-year-old world No 1 — whose season opened with a loss to Novak Djokovic in last week’s Qatar Open — told The Times in an interview he had also pondered whether he should accept the knighthood he received on New Year’s Day.
Murray, who is in Australia preparing for next week’s Aussie Open, is adamant he no longer has issues over tournaments he has yet to win.
“I don’t feel like I have mentalhurdles now ,” he said .“I feel like I’m past that, to be honest.
“I just show up and give my best to win. So long as I give my best effort, I don’t judge myself or feel like I’ve failed here (Melbourne) or anything like that.”
Murray said he conferred with those closest to him — but not his brother Jamie — over whether to accept the knighthood when he was offered it in the middle of December.
“I spoke to a few of the people closest to me. I didn’t have too long, but obviously you think about something like that because I do feel like it’s obviously a big honor to be offered that, but it comes with maybe a little bit more responsibility,” said Murray, who had a memorable 2016 becoming Britain’s first tennis No 1 of the professional era, winning Wimbledon and defending his Olympic title.
“I’m still very young, I’m still competing and obviously I don’t want anything to distract me or affect my performance on the court.
“I kept it fairly quiet and just spoke to the people that I was closest to and explained what the situation was. I just tried to get the best advice possible.”
Murray is clear, though, how he wishes to be addressed by his rivals on the circuit.
“A few of the players have been chatting to me about it and asking how it works, what does it mean and what do we call you,” Murray said.
Murray, whose win in the 2012 US Open was the first in a Grand Slam by a British tennis male tennis player since Fred Perry in 1936, said another thing that has changed as he has matured is how he reacts to personal criticism.
“When you are comfortable with who you are, someone saying that you’re boring or miserable or whatever it is, it doesn’t affect you like it does when you are younger and you are still not sure of yourself,” said Murray.
“When you grow up in the spotlight and you don’t know exactly who you are or what you’re going to become, that’s probably a bit more difficult.”
Murray, who said he likes to organize his schedule so he can see his daughter Sophia and wife Kim every couple of weeks, received a flood of congratulations when he became No 1, but phone messages left by two sporting giants were particularly meaningful.
“I got one from Alex Ferguson and one from Jose Mourinho,” said Murray.
“That was pretty cool. I obviously watch a lot of football and they are two of the most respected and best managers in one of the hardest sports to succeed in at the highest level. That was pretty nice.”
Such is Murray’s affinity for soccer, he said he would like to be involved in the sport when the day finally comes to put away his racket — although he would also like to coach a British player.
“I would like to do something in football,” said Murray, whose grandfather Roy Erskine played for historic Scottish club Hibernian in the 1950’s.
“I watch loads of it. I am into my fantasy sports a lot, and football is at the top of my list.”
As the top two seeds in Melbourne, Murray and Djokovic will be on opposite sides of the men’s draw and seeded to meet each other in the Jan 29 final.
Murray, who lost to the Serb in the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 Aussie finals, trails Djokovic 25-11 in their encounters, but the Scot dominated the second half of last year.
In contrast, Djokovic’s season imploded after a thirdround loss at Wimbledon, followed by a first-round exit to Juan Martin del Potro at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and a loss to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.
With six Melbourne championships under his belt, Djokovic will make history as the player with the most Australian Open victories if he manages to win the tournament again.
A seventh triumph would vault him past Australia’s Roy Emerson, who also won six titles — but all of those came during the amateur era of the 1960s.
World No 1 Andy Murray serves to Novak Djokovic during their clash in the Qatar Open final in Doha on Saturday. Djokovic won 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.