Belfast Telegraph

Monday 26 January 2015

Agassi tips Murray for Australian Open success

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 09: Andy Murray of Great Britain is watched by his coach Ivan Lendl during a practice session ahead of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 9, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Andre Agassi, who was Andy Murray's boyhood hero, believes that the Scot can become the first man in the Open era to follow up his first Grand Slam triumph with victory in the following event. No man has performed the feat since Lew Hoad in 1956, but Agassi predicts that Murray will be inspired by his victory in last September's US Open to win the Australian Open.

Murray, who plays against Robin Haase on Tuesday, is second favourite behind Novak Djokovic, who beat him in the 2011 final and the 2012 semi-finals."This is Murray's year to really break through," Agassi told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I think he's slowly come to understand what he needs to do. He has so many defensive skills that he does run the risk of being passive."

Agassi believes Murray beating Djokovic in the US Open final was a crucial turning point. "He had to step up and take it," Agassi said. "He couldn't just wait. He had to step up in that fifth set to the biggest situation against the biggest player on the biggest stage – and he did.

"If his evolution is anything like mine, that was the real light switch that went off for me. I realised that I can't hope for somebody to lose. I have to want this enough to go after it. I think once that clicks in for him, you'll see him playing to [the standard of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic] throughout the year and for a few years to come."

Haase, the world No 54, has lost 12 of his last 14 matches. The 25-year-old Dutchman, a big but erratic hitter, beat Murray in Rotterdam five years ago, and was two sets up before losing their only other encounter, at the 2011 US Open.

"He's very talented," Murray said. "He likes playing extremely aggressive, so I'll need to be prepared."

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