ABU DHABI (Reuters) - After five runner-up finishes at the Australian Open, world number one Andy Murray is taking a different approach to the season-opening grand slam at Melbourne Park next month.
The Briton is preparing for the Jan. 16-29 tournament by competing in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi rather than the mixed team round robin format of the Hopman Cup in Perth which he has favoured for the last two years.
Murray plays his first match on Friday and was his usual cautiously optimistic self when asked about finally ending his Melbourne drought.
“I’ve played really well there in the past and it hasn’t happened for me so I’ll need to do something a little bit different this year,” Murray told Reuters on Wednesday.
“I love the conditions there and I enjoy the tournament a lot, and I’ll be going in hopefully playing well and with a lot of confidence because of the way I finished 2016, so I’ll give it a good go this year.”
The 29-year-old double Olympic champion will go to Melbourne with his confidence sky-high after knocking Novak Djokovic, the man who has beaten him in four Australian Open finals, off the top of the world rankings.
The Scot won nine titles in 2016, including Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal, and thrashed Djokovic in the final of the ATP Tour Finals to take top spot in the rankings from the Serb.
However, the 24-match winning run that helped him land his last five tournaments of the season took its toll.
“Getting to number one it took me basically the whole year, right down to the last tournament, the last match of the year to finish number one, so that was really, really hard and it took a lot out of me physically and mentally,” Murray said.
“I was really, really tired, more tired than I’ve been at the end of any season that I’d finished before.”
Murray has a bye into Friday’s semi-finals in the UAE and will face the winner of Thursday’s quarter-final between David Goffin of Belgium and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Writing by Patrick Johnston in London, Editing by Ed Osmond