Murray is hoping to follow in McIlroy’s footsteps

British No 1 Andy Murray during a training session at the Australian Open in Melbourne (Picture: Bernat Armangue/AP).British No 1 Andy Murray during a training session at the Australian Open in Melbourne (Picture: Bernat Armangue/AP).
British No 1 Andy Murray during a training session at the Australian Open in Melbourne (Picture: Bernat Armangue/AP).
Andy Murray will not be copying Rory McIlroy’s approach to setting yearly goals, although he would love to replicate the kind of success the world’s top golfer enjoyed in 2014.

McIlroy revealed earlier this week that he writes his goals for the year on the back of his boarding pass when he flies to Dubai to prepare for his seasonal debut in Abu Dhabi.

The 25-year-old would not reveal what those seven goals are, but winning the Masters to complete the career grand slam would undoubtedly feature following his wins in the Open Championship and US PGA last year.

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Murray missed out on his sport’s four biggest prizes in 2014 and failed to reach a grand slam final for the first time since 2009, but comes into the Australian Open in confident mood and excellent form.

“I don’t do it like Rory does,” Murray said ahead of his first-round clash with India’s Yuki Bhambri. “I speak to my team often during the year, but normally every three months or so I prefer to set short-term goals, either physical or on the court, and then reassess them after a few months because that’s how I’ve worked best throughout my career.

“When I have looked a year in advance it hasn’t worked as well. I prefer looking more short-term. At the end of last year I had a number of things I needed to work on in my game which I did in the off-season and obviously the goal was to get myself in the best shape possible for here.

“It’s the biggest tournament at the beginning of the year and I tried to get myself in the best shape.”

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Murray achieved that via his usual gruelling winter training regime in Florida and began the year by thrashing Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-0 in an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi.

The 27-year-old followed that up by winning all three of his singles matches in the Hopman Cup in Perth and is out to extend his impressive record in Melbourne, having reached the final in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

“I do like the conditions here,” added Murray, who lost to Roger Federer in the quarter-finals 12 months ago and is seeded to face the Swiss star at the same stage again this year.

“Hard courts is the surface I feel very comfortable on. I like the balls they use here, a little bit slower than the ones at the 
US Open and I like that.

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“And then normally if you put in good work in the off-season and work hard, you’re going to get good rewards at the beginning of the year. I feel like the effort and work that I put in in December has helped me here.”

Murray’s first opponent is ranked 317th in the world, but is a former Australian Open junior champion and came through three rounds of qualifying to make the main draw.

“Obviously having the matches is a bonus that helps, having played in the conditions,” Murray said.

“You come in confident and often if you play a high seed (Murray is sixth), not much to lose.”

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Britain’s Heather Watson will contest the Australian Open buoyed by the second WTA Tour title of her career and a career-high world ranking.

Watson beat American qualifier Madison Brengle 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Hobart International on Saturday to complete an ideal week of preparation for the first grand slam of 2015.

The 22-year-old won her maiden title in Osaka at the end of the 2012 season, ending a 24-year wait for a British female champion on the main tour, and bounced back from an injury-blighted 2013 by climbing back into the top 50 last season.

On the back of the Hobart win she will take on Bulgaria’s 
Tsvetana Pironkova in the opening round in Melbourne as the 
No 38 player in the world, having climbed up from 49th to eclipse her previous best of 39th from February 2013.

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“For me it’s very important to actually get the title win,” she said.

“A lot of players are very consistent and go deep into tournaments, but never actually clear that final hurdle. I like to have a title to my name, so I’m very pleased to get that.

“This one felt more like I belonged here, this was where I should be.”