Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Australian Open defeat not all bad for Andy Murray

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Andy Murray of Great Britain shakes hands with Roger Federer of Switzerland after Federer won their quarterfinal match during day 10 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22: Andy Murray of Great Britain shakes hands with Roger Federer of Switzerland after Federer won their quarterfinal match during day 10 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

To get to the top in tennis these days, it is essential that you are not just as skilled as your opponent but as physically fit as them as well.

World leaders such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal epitomise this with their never-say-die attitude out on the court.

But Andy Murray’s quarter-final exit to Roger Federer in the Australian Open has prompted many to ask if the Scot was wasting his time Down Under.

He was clearly not back to full fitness following an operation on his back last September and therefore had no realistic chance of winning the tournament himself.

I believe, however, that Murray was right to take a chance in Australia.

Although we all knew the world number four probably wouldn’t be coming home with a third Grand Slam under his belt, his Australian jaunt gave him vital playing time against the best players around and enabled him to work on his speed and sharpness, which will be essential for the rest of the season.

No matter how much fitness work you do, it is still imperative that you get match practice — and, by competing in this Grand Slam event, Murray got both.

There were signs that the Wimbledon champion’s mind and body were getting back to normal during his four-sets defeat by Federer in extreme Australian heat.

Murray himself will feel far more confident heading into the rest of the season after his painless re-integration back onto the tour — which can only be a plus for him and his fans.

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