Andy Murray continues quest for maiden Grand Slam

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If hard work and dedication is the secret to grand slam success, then Andy Murray will be hoping that his efforts get the return they deserve at the Australian Open.

The world number five was the runner-up to Roger Federer in Melbourne in 2010 and is still chasing his first grand slam title, having also lost to the Swiss in the US Open final in 2008.

The Briton spent most of December in Miami conducting an intensive training block which included running on the beach on Christmas Day, as well as numerous weight sessions and gruelling repetitions of 200 metres, 400m and 800m on the running track.

"Last year's Aussie Open was one of the best events I've played in my life," Murray said. "I played some of my best tennis so I'll have to play even better if I want to win because Rafa (Nadal) and Roger are playing so well just now.

"Physically, I need to be able to match up with those guys so you need to make sure you work hard off the court... and I've always felt like I played better after doing long training blocks.

"Then on the court, I've worked a lot on my serve. I think from the baseline I've matched up well with Roger and Rafa in the past but I'll need to serve well and return well against them if I want to beat them."

While he admits he would have preferred more time off after a long 2010 season, Murray said he felt mentally refreshed.

After a slow start, he showed good form in winning all three of his singles matches last week at the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth, improving with each day and culminating with an impressive victory over American John Isner.

Federer and Nadal have mopped up an incredible 24 of the past 28 grand slam titles but Murray believes there are more than a few players who can cause an upset.

"I think there are a lot of guys that can win it," he said. "They're obviously the two favourites but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion. I'm sure there are a lot of guys that think they've got a chance of beating them."

Compared to his form of 2009 when he won six titles, Murray had an up-and-down campaign in 2010 but ended it in positive fashion when he played brilliantly against Nadal in the semi-finals of the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

Nadal still managed to get the better of him in a third-set tiebreak but Murray took a lot from the aggressive style he produced against the Spaniard.

"That was one of the best matches I'd played in during the year and it was a good way in many ways to finish the year," Murray said.

"It would have been great to have won but at the same time having lost I could go away and realise that I played a great match but I still need to get better if I want to beat Rafa and Roger in the slams and that's hopefully what I've been able to do."