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


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."

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk