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."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future