Murray approaching Australian Open from new angle

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“We’ve worked on some minor technical things, some mental things, and we’ve obviously worked on tactical things as well,” he said. “But he tries to keep things fairly simple and not overcomplicate things. That’s something that I think especially at the beginning of my career I struggled with.”

Federer thinks Djokovic is the favorite at Melbourne Park, where he has won the last two titles.

“He’s probably been the best hard-court player over the last couple of years, even though Murray won the U.S. Open,” he said. “Andy Murray is playing great and only going to get stronger in the next couple of years.”

Djokovic lost to Australia’s Bernard Tomic at the Hopman Cup mixed-team competition last week, but will be taking the Australian Open a lot more seriously.

“It’s a huge challenge,” he said. “I love the Australian Open. That court brings back the best memories of my career.

“I like the hard court, I like the conditions and I’m going to go for the trophy, of course. I have high ambitions for myself, but I’m absolutely aware that it’s going to be very difficult because today’s Grand Slam is very competitive.

Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam title last year also got him to this group of players who are serious candidates to win the Australian Open title.”

Federer has changed his approach for this Australian Open, avoiding playing in a warm-up tournament in 2013.

“I’m confident if mentally I’m fresh, which I feel I am, and physically I am fine, which I am, too, that I will play a good Australian Open,” he said. “I think it’s an exciting one. We had four different Grand Slam champions this last year and everybody seems in great shape. There’s not one you could say he’s not playing so well except Rafa, who’s obviously not playing.

“I’ve never played a poor Australian Open, so of course I’m hoping for a similar result.”

While the men’s majors have been dominated by three players in the last decade, there’s more Grand Slam winners in the women’s draw.

Four female players won majors in 2011 and three shared the four trophies in 2012.

Azarenka was the only woman to win her first major in 2012. She was the main beneficiary when Serena Williams lost to Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Azarenka has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Williams, including all five last year, but is confident she can turn it around and doesn’t feel any extra pressure to defend a title.

“I would like to win every time we meet. It doesn’t really matter where it is,” she said. “I really mean it when I say that I don’t look to defend anything. I look forward to repeat, to win. Defend, I don’t know. You defend in a war or something, but not in tennis.”

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