Plenty of stepping stones remain ahead of Murray before Aus Open

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Perhaps claiming his first tournament since reigning the Wimbledon lawns, one week after his support for Scotland’s independence bid caused controversy, accelerated Andy Murray’s emotions.

Either way the Scot was visibly moved by his triumph over Tommy Robredo in the final of the Shenzhen Open, in which he saved five match points before taking a 5-7 7-6 (11-9) 6-1 win.

Having gone so long without swilling celebratory champagne, Murray’s first win in 18 outings came at the perfect time, as he bids to rebuild himself as a force in the Grand Slams.

His attempts will begin at the Australian Open, where he is the third-favourite with Ladbrokes at 9/2 to win, but first there are a number of tasks facing the 27-year-old.

An immediate goal will be to qualify for the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals in London, where the top eight players on the circuit do battle for a hefty purse.

Currently Murray is 10th in the race for the Barclays-sponsored O2 event, but with his victory in China now sits just 105 ranking points behind Tomas Berdych, the eighth-place incumbent.

Three tournaments adorn the Olympic champion’s schedule before qualification for the Tour Finals closes, with 2,500 points available should he claim a trio of trophies.

Obviously, after such an inconsistent season, the benefit of putting a late run of form together is untold considering the London showpiece and Australian Open are a mere two months apart.

His calendar keeps him in China for a crack at the country’s home Open, where Murray is seeded sixth and faces Jerzy Janowicz in the first round as the 1/6 favourite to progress.

Once his stint in Beijing is complete, Murray moves to Shanghai for the Rolex Masters before finishing his assault on the indoor hard courts of the Paribas Masters.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.