Federer aura no longer holds fear for Murray

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Andy Murray was in bullish mood ahead of the Australian Open yesterday, as you might expect for the tournament favourite, saying that he no longer gets nervous about facing Roger Federer.

"It doesn't make any difference whether people expect you to win or not," he said. "It doesn't change my mentality. You get used to being expected to win matches when you play at Wimbledon. The pressure that comes with that gets you used to these situations. The more you play against [Federer] the less fearful you are, you're not scared to win the match. If you're young and you play against the top guys, once you get close to winning you get nervous. Now I don't get nervous and if I play my best tennis I can beat him."

Murray has done that spectacularly so far this year, having won all of his eight matches, including beating Rafael Nadal once and Federer twice. He has also beaten Federer five times out of seven in his career, his only defeats coming in their first meeting at Bangkok in 2005 and in the US Open final last year.

Both players have their own dates with history in Melbourne when the tournament starts on Monday. A win for Federer would take him level with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slams. For Murray there is the little matter of trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry back in 1936.

He said: "It has been so long since a British tennis player has won a Slam. I'd love to win a Grand Slam, but it might not happen. You have to try to forget about all the history. It is not of benefit if you are going on the court worrying about those sort of things. You have to put them to the back of your mind. I do understand what a big deal it would be if someone from Britain did win a Slam, but I'm still very young so I'm not putting any added pressure on myself to win this Australian Open."

Despite Murray's record against Federer, the Swiss is surprised that the Briton was favourite with many bookmakers to win in Melbourne. "Who said that?" the world No 2 asked. "The bookies? Good for him. It doesn't help him a whole lot. I've been in that position before as well and didn't make it."

Britain's Anne Keothavong went out of the Moorilla Hobart International yesterday to France's Virginie Razzano 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 in the second round and Mel South went out of the Sydney International 6-2, 6-0 to Denmark's Carolina Wozniacki.