MELBOURNE: Finally clinching an elusive Australian Open crown is Andy Murray’s number one goal for the new year but the Briton concedes that his hopes of success at Melbourne Park may rest on champion Novak Djokovic having an off-day.
World number one Djokovic holds three of the four grand slam crowns after a dominant 2015 and started the new season with a bang last week, thrashing Rafa Nadal in straight sets to win the Qatar Open.
An awed Nadal described Djokovic’s performance in the Qatar final as “perfection” and the highlights reel has been sober viewing for the Serb’s top rivals warming up in Australia.
Having lost to Djokovic in last year’s final at Melbourne Park and in the 2011 and 2013 title-deciders, world number two Murray was under few illusions as to the scale of the task.
“My number one goal is to try and win here,” Murray, who also lost a fourth Melbourne Park final to Roger Federer in 2010, told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.
“It’d mean a lot because of how may times I’ve been close.
“You just have to keep trying to learn, watch his matches, try and see if there’s any weaknesses there that you can capitalize on.
“Maybe he has a drop-off, it’s very difficult to maintain that level for such a long period.
“That’s all you can do.”
World number three Federer, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, was also impressed by Djokovic’s obliteration of 14-times grand slam champion Nadal in Doha.
“To some extent it’s surprising for sure,” the 34-year-old told reporters after losing the Brisbane International final to Milos Raonic on Sunday.
“Maybe not so much because he’s been on a roll for a while now.
“Of course, he is the favorite for the Australian Open. Plus he’s played well there historically.”
The Australian Open starts Jan. 18.