Andy Murray back in training eager to avoid spring slump

Scot takes five weeks off from competition to work with Lendl after Australian final defeat

Melbourne

The treadmill does not stop for Novak Djokovic. Within hours of his victory over Andy Murray in the Australian Open on Sunday the world No 1 was flying back to Europe. On Friday he will be playing on an indoor clay court in Belgium for Serbia in the Davis Cup. After a few days' rest he will then head for an outdoor hard-court tournament in Dubai.

For Murray, the next five weeks will be an opportunity for a more considered approach to his work. For the first time since he made his debut here seven years ago the Scot does not plan to play in any tournaments between the Australian Open and the back-to-back Masters Series tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami next month.

Not that Murray will be enjoying some winter sun or chilling out at home. Most of his time before Indian Wells will be spent on the practice court with his coach, Ivan Lendl, in Miami, which has become the world No 3's second home.

In past years after giving his all in Melbourne at the season's opening Grand Slam tournament – where he has lost in the final three times in the past four years (he reached the semi-finals on the other occasion) – Murray has sometimes gone into a spring-time slump. He is determined to avoid that happening again.

"My next goal is to try and play good tennis in Indian Wells and Miami," Murray said in the wake of his fifth defeat in his six Grand Slam finals. "I've realised in the last year or so that when I set myself short-term goals I tend to play better tennis that way. Previously after every Slam I would look way ahead to the next one and kind of take my eye off the ball with the other events, so that's the immediate goal.

"I'll also think slightly about the French Open. It's a tournament I'm capable of doing well in, but for me it takes a lot of practice, a lot of hours on clay to get used to it. That's a major goal for me, but I've got to do well in the next few months."

Between the Miami Masters, which finishes at the end of March, and the start of the clay-court season in Monte Carlo in April, Britain have a home Davis Cup tie against Russia. Murray has yet to make a decision on whether he will make himself available but said he would be discussing the tie with Leon Smith, Britain's Davis Cup captain, in the coming weeks.

Chasing the world No 1 ranking remains a target for Murray, who closed the gap between himself and Djokovic and Roger Federer, the two men above him, with his run to the final here. The next five months give Murray a chance of topping the rankings, which are calculated on a rolling 12-month basis. The period between the Australian Open and Wimbledon was a comparatively lean one for Murray last year, which means that he could make up plenty of ground this time around, particularly on clay.

Murray's current total of 8,480 rankings points is still 4,440 behind Djokovic's, but with 1,000 points awarded to winners of Masters Series tournaments (of which there are five between now and Wimbledon) and 2,000 to Grand Slam champions the situation could quickly change

"I obviously didn't do particularly well on the clay until the French last year and Indian Wells wasn't good either, so there's obviously potential to pick up points and improve my ranking," Murray said. "It's tough. If I had won here I would have had two Slams, a Wimbledon final and Olympic gold [in my ranking points total] and still been well behind Novak. With his consistency just now and with Rafa [Nadal] coming back, it's going to get tougher. I'll need to do well the next few months and not play badly, especially in the Masters Series."

What aspect of his game will he work on over the next few weeks given his performance in the final? "I'll have a think about why I maybe didn't create as many chances on the return as I've done in the past. I'll look at that. But the way I was striking the ball was fine. My tactics were right. I just didn't give myself enough opportunities on his serve."

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick