Andy Murray’s hopes of a maiden Australian Open victory were smashed away by a ruthless Novak Djokovic in the final at Melbourne – but the Scot shouldn’t be too disheartened.
Murray’s five set victory over Roger Federer on Friday would not have helped matters and that, combined with the extra day’s rest – not to mention blister-free feet – gave Djokovic the edge he needed to win his third consecutive Australian Open title.
Despite going one set up in the match, Murray struggled to keep up with the Serb’s brutal, physical game and, in the end, it was a pretty comfortable victory for the world number one.
However, there was plenty for Murray to be encouraged by going into the new season and backing him to add to his US Open victory with another Grand Slam in 2013 looks well worth some serious consideration.
You may want to wait until after the French before lumping on that second victory though.
Rafa Nadal – who missed the Australian Open with a virus – will be back for his favourite event and the King of Clay heads into the tournament as the 11/10 favourite despite his injury woes.
Djokovic is second favourite at 7/4 and it’s tough to see Murray besting either of these players on his weakest surface.
Wimbledon is another matter.
Murray reached the final at SW19 last year and subsequently won Olympic gold on the Wimbledon grass. He’s currently the 5/2 second favourite but, with the quicker court making for shorter rallies, Federer will once again be a threat and he shouldn’t be ruled out at 4/1.
However, with Murray now feeling the love from the British crowds (a fact signalled by his third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards), a punt on a Wimbledon win for the Scot looks well worth a couple of quid.