Home comforts aid Murray's challenge

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray will feel right at home here this week as he looks to become the first British player to break into the world's top three.

The reinvigorated Scot starts his campaign to claim the Miami Masters title today against Argentina's world No 59 Juan Monaco in the knowledge that a run to the final could see him usurp Novak Djokovic, the current third-ranked player.

Murray will be wary of a player who as recently as 13 months ago reached 14th in the world rankings, particularly after crashing out at the same second-round stage last year at the hands of Mario Ancic. But, having fully recovered from a recent illness to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells last weekend, he will have no excuse for failing to perform here. Especially so given he will be able to recuperate each evening in his own apartment, which he bought last year before decorating it himself after Wimbledon.

"It's nice," he admitted. "It's the first year that I will be able to stay in my apartment. I've spent a lot of time here in the last year and a half or so – training, taking a couple of holidays here as well. I know Miami relatively well. Obviously it's nice to get to stay in your own bed at the tournament. That doesn't happen too much throughout the year."

Should Murray become the first Briton to make it into the world's top three since the inception of the rankings system in 1973, he is likely to have done it the hard way. A run of Mardy Fish, David Nalbandian and Fernando Verdasco, who beat him in the Australian Open in January, could await him should he defeat Monaco today, before a likely semi-final meeting with world No 1 Rafael Nadal.

However, Murray insists he could not be in finer shape as he looks to claim a third Masters title. "I feel much better, much better prepared this week than at Indian Wells," he said, referring to the virus he was shaking off in California.

Despite winning three of his last four matches against Nadal, to whom he lost in the Indian Wells final last weekend, Murray believes the Spaniard continues to set the standard in world tennis. "Nadal holds three of the four slams," he said. "He's strong on clay. Right now he's starting to gain a bit of ground on everyone. I think he's quite a bit in front."