Buoyant Murray says sky's the limit

World No 4 relishes chance to improve his ranking on the hard outdoor surface that suits him best

Dubai

Now he knows what it feels like to be on top of the world. Andy Murray went up the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the planet, for a photo-shoot here yesterday in advance of this week's men's tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.

"The view was unbelievable," Murray said after coming down from the tower, which soars 828 metres into the sky. "It's a long way and my ears popped on the way up. It started on something like the 20th floor and there's still six times as much to go. We stopped at the 124th floor. It was really high."

Thankfully, Murray, has a head for heights. Indeed he is keen to continue going up in the world. With few points to defend in the next two months, the world No 4 has an eye on improving his ranking during a period of the season – outdoors on hard courts – which suits his game. After Dubai, his first tournament since last month's Australian Open, Murray will head to the United States for Masters Series tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami.

In 2010 and 2011 Murray suffered a post-Australian Open slump after losing in the final, but this year is looking different. Although he did not go as far this time – he lost to Novak Djokovic, the eventual champion, in a marathon semi-final – Murray has every reason to be encouraged by his form. He has also arrived here in buoyant mood after a week-and-a-half at a training camp in Florida with his new coach, Ivan Lendl.

"I feel much better," Murraysaid as he compared this year with last. "I did the right thing in getting away from the UK and not staying indoors. For me the hardest transition is going from outdoors to indoors. Going over to Miami, being away from everything and being in good weather, was so much better.

"I was up at seven each morning and going to bed at 9.30 each night, I was so tired. I was just working on tennis and not doing anything else.

"We spent a lot of time on the court. We did a lot of long, hard drills. It wasn't like the off-season, when I spent a lot more time in the gym. I was spending about four hours on the court each day with various hitting partners."

Murray believes he took another step forward in Melbourne last month. "I played well and improved a lot of things," he said. "It wasn't like after I lost to Novak last year, when I was thinking, 'What could I have done better? Are there things that I should change in my game?'"

For the most part Murray believes he does not have much of a gap to close between himself and the three players above him in the rankings, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. "I think there's no real big difference on hard courts," he said. "On the clay I definitely think I still need to improve a lot. On grass I just need a little bit of consistency."Lendl will not be here – he is playing in a Champions Tour event in Florida,and won his first match on Friday night against Jimmy Arias – as his man attempts to improve on a moderate record in Dubai. Murray'spast problems at the tournament include a wrist injury and a bout of food poisoning.

Murray said it was taking time to adjust to the conditions. "It's so fast here," he said. "For me the conditions are some of the quickest that we play in during the year. Here and Indian Wells are similar, though I think the courts are bit slower in Indian Wells. It's taken a few days to get used to the speed, but if I adjust well I think the courts should be good for me."

Nadal and David Ferrer are the only top-10 absentees. Murray plays a qualifier in the first round and could meet Nikolay Davydenko in the second. Thereafter he is seeded to meet Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals and then Djokovic, who is also making his first post-Melbourne appearance. Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the top seeds in the other half of the draw.

Pole vaults to fifth in world: Radwanska keeps rising after straight-sets win

Agnieszka Radwanska will climb to a career-high No 5 in the world ranking list after claiming the eighth singles title of her career here yesterday. The 23-year-old Pole won the Dubai Duty Free Championships women's final for the first time when she beat Germany's Julia Görges 7-5 6-4.

Radwanska has carried on where she left off at the end of last season, when she won titles in Tokyo and Beijing. In her four tournaments this year she has suffered only three defeats, all to the world No 1, Victoria Azarenka, who went on to win the title on each occasion.

Paul Newman

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