Murray gunning for top ranking
London - Andy Murray heads back to the UK resolving that there will be no repeat of the post-Australian Open letdowns that have plagued him following defeat in the final.
The new ranking list - which had the extremely unfamiliar sight of Rafael Nadal outside the top four - still sees the 25-year-old Scot as the world No 3 and some way behind Roger Federer, but the next few months will bring the opportunity to confirm himself as No 2.
Murray is not planning to play for more than a month, but when he does, there will be no half-measures as has sometimes been the case before. With relatively few ranking points to defend between now and the French Open, it gives him the chance to build towards the ultimate goal of becoming world No 1.
‘My next aim is to try to play good tennis in Indian Wells (the first Masters event of the season),’ said Murray in the wake of his four-set defeat by Novak Djokovic.
‘I’ve realised in the last year or so that when I set myself short-term goals, I tend to play better. Previously after every Slam, I would look way ahead to the next one and take my eye off the ball with respect to the other events.
‘Indian Wells wasn’t good for me last year and I didn’t do particularly well on the clay until the French, so there’s potential to pick up points and improve my rankings.
‘I’ve got to still think about the French - it’s a tournament I’m capable of doing well in - but for me, it takes a lot of practice to get used to it. However, I know I can do well there.’
Murray’s ranking situation is not helped by the fact that his Olympics gold brought relatively few points, and he believes the system should still be weighted more towards doing well at the most important tournaments.
‘If I had won this final against Novak, I would have had two Slam titles, a Wimbledon final and Olympic gold and still been well behind him,’ said Murray.
‘There was that argument not long ago about Caroline Wozniacki being world No 1 without winning a Slam. The reality is with the consistency of Novak just now and Rafa on his way back, getting to No 1 is going to be even tougher.’
Nadal, down to No 5 due to his long-term absence, is due to begin his return early next month in the clay-court swing of tournaments in South America, with him likely to play in Chile, Sao Paulo and Acapulco in Mexico.
Murray’s main scheduling decision is about whether he will play in Britain’s Davis Cup tie against Russia in April that could put them within a match of returning to the elite World Group.
The venue is likely to be announced this week, with the Ricoh Arena in Coventry a candidate. Murray is believed to be veering towards not playing, but will discuss the matter with captain Leon Smith on his return.
Two players who will be turning out in national colours next week are Heather Watson and Laura Robson, who will be playing for GB in the Fed Cup group stages in Israel under the captaincy of Murray’s mother, Judy.
They made the third round in Melbourne and were rewarded with career-high rankings in the new list on Monday, with Watson up to No 40 and Robson up to 43.
After Australia, there will be reflection on a number of issues that arose from the tournament.
One is a way to stop the abuse of the rule allowing on-court treatment that blew up especially in Victoria Azarenka’s semi-final.
Another is the scheduling of the Australian Open, which saw Murray disadvantaged because men’s semi-finals are played on different days.