MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The draw has done few favors for Andy Murray at Melbourne Park, but the Briton believes he has put in the off-season work to be rewarded at the Australian Open.
Murray will be seeded sixth at the year’s first grand slam starting Monday, bunched on the same half of the draw as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, and with a possible fourth round match against Bulgarian danger-man Grigor Dimitrov.
“Obviously, (a) very tough draw. Very difficult draw,” the Scot told reporters.
”It’s very hard to comment on it. If you have to play all of those players, obviously it’s going to be extremely difficult to come through that.
”I‘m aware of that. That’s fine. But, yeah, often in these events, there are upsets. And then you just have to wait and see who you’re playing in each round because it doesn’t always work out as simply as that.
”I‘m sure Rafa (Nadal) just now, if you said to him, ‘Give me a semi-final spot’, he’d be very happy with that coming off a tough injury.
“But it will be interesting to see how it goes. But definitely with the names you mentioned, it’s very challenging.”
A three-times runner-up at Melbourne Park, Murray was unable to add to his two grand slam titles in 2014 after coming back from a major back surgery and parting ways with coach Ivan Lendl.
Since appointing Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as Lendl’s replacement, his team has had further changes with assistant coach Dani Vallverdu and fitness trainer Jez Green departing in November.
“It hasn’t been weird. It’s been, in my opinion, positive,” the 27-year-old said of the transition.
”When things aren’t working well, there’s not a positive atmosphere, it’s not good for anybody.
“So when that changes and everyone’s working together, that makes things better. So the last two months for me so far have been very, very good.”
Though frustrated three times in the final, once by Roger Federer in 2010 and twice by Novak Djokovic in 2011 and 2013, Murray has thrived on Melbourne Park’s blue courts where last year’s quarter-final exit was his earliest in six years.
“I do like the conditions here. I mean, obviously hard courts is the surface I feel very comfortable on,” he said.
“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 December has helped me here.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty