MELBOURNE: Andy Murray said his past disappointments would have no bearing on Sunday’s title match against Novak Djokovic as he looks to end a run of four near-misses by finally winning the Australian Open.
Murray admitted he was the firm underdog against five-time champion Djokovic, who has beaten him three times in the Melbourne Park final in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Murray also lost to Roger Federer in 2010.
The world number two has ridden a roller coaster at this year’s tournament, distracted by his wife’s pregnancy and the collapse of his father-in-law Nigel Sears at Rod Laver Arena, which prompted him to consider pulling out.
Despite the difficulties, and his string of disappointments in the Melbourne final, the Scot said he believes in his chances of stopping Djokovic claiming a record-equalling sixth Australian Open win.
“I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday,” Murray said. “I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.
“But the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. It’s about what happens on Sunday.”
While Murray is attempting to become the first man in the post-1968 Open era to win the Australian Open after losing four finals, Djokovic has been sweeping all before him.
The Serb, who fell just one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015, demolished 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in a sublime semi-final featuring two spellbinding opening sets.
But Murray is focusing on what he has to do to deny Djokovic, who is seeking an 11th Grand Slam title to draw level with tennis greats Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on the all-time list.
Murray, bidding to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since Fred Perry in 1934, knows he can match the dazzling Djokovic, it’s whether he can keep it up for long enough.
“Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn’t miles apart. It was a very close match for three sets,” he said.
“The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there.
“I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That’s my challenge on Sunday.”
Djokovic wore down Murray in four gruelling sets to win last year’s Melbourne final with the opening two sets lasting two-and-a-half hours.
The odds are again stacked against the combative Scot. He has one fewer day’s rest after Djokovic beat Federer on Thursday, and was taken to five sets by Milos Raonic in their semi-final on Friday.
But Murray is already proud of his achievements at the Australian Open, even if he is yet to be crowned the champion.
“Five finals is a great achievement. You can’t take that away from me. I should be happy about that,” he said.
“There’s very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.
“Obviously when you get to the final you’re disappointed if you don’t win. But I’ve played very good tennis here. I’ve given myself many opportunities to reach the finals.
“I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis.”