Ivan Lendl believes Andy Murray will benefit from having won the last Grand Slam tournament when the Australian Open begins on Monday, but he insists that the world No 3's main rivals still have an edge in terms of experience.
Murray won his first Grand Slam title at last year's US Open, having lost his four previous finals, but he has a long way to go before he can match the records of the two men above him in the world rankings. Roger Federer has won a record 17 Grand Slam titles, while Novak Djokovic has five to his name, including three here.
"I think it's overrated," Murray's coach said yesterday when asked what advantage the Scot might derive from arriving here as the winner of the last Grand Slam tournament. "It may be worth a point here or there with lesser players, but I promise you it makes no difference with the top guys. That's what it was like for me. It won't help you much with the top guys.
"It helps you because of you, but not because of what they are going to do. They have won a lot, they have been there, seen it and done it. They are very experienced. When you win the first one you know how it feels in certain situations, what it takes, so you have gained that experience. But they have more of it. Roger and Novak have more of those experiences than Andy does at this stage."
Lendl, who became Murray's coach just over 12 months ago, said it had been "a fantastic year" for his man but added: "I always look for more. That's how you get better, by looking for more. The moment you get satisfied is when the dangers come. I know he wants to look for more too."
Asked how long he expected to coach Murray, Lendl said: "As long as it works for both of us. It's pretty simple; providing we both want to do it, that's how long I see it continuing."
Lendl said Murray should always be proud of his achievements so long as he continued to work hard. "My belief is as long as you prepare the best way and give all you have, you can always walk with your head held high," he said. "If you do your best in preparation and the matches I don't see one reason, not even a small one, why you shouldn't be proud of yourself and hold your head up high.
"It may change the people's perception of someone by winning, but I will quote my golfing hero, Ben Hogan, who said, 'Life is too short to be walking around explaining yourself to people'. Therefore it is really important how you feel about yourself. And once again, if you give your best in preparation and matches you should feel good about yourself.
"An example was the semis here last year. There was no reason for Andy to have his head down after that [defeat to Djokovic]. Zero. And I told him that. It was the same after Wimbledon this year. There was no reason to hang his head. And because he didn't, he won the Olympics. If his head was down he wouldn't have won."
Yesterday's draw was reasonably kind to Murray, although he may have to beat Juan Martin del Potro, Federer and Djokovic in his last three matches if he is to win the title.
Two more British men were hoping to join him in the main draw today by winning their final matches in the qualifying tournament. James Ward beat Mischa Zverev 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday to earn a meeting with another German, Julian Reister. Jamie Baker beat Italy's Matteo Viola 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 and was facing Donald Young, of the United States, in today's third round.
Johanna Konta went out of the qualifying tournament, beaten 7-5, 2-6, 8-6 by China's Zhou Yi-Miao, which left Heather Watson and Laura Robson as Britain's only players in the main draw of the women's singles.Both have good chances to progress beyond the first round. Watson meets Romania's Alexandra Cadantu, the world No 89, and cannot face a seed until the third round, when she could meet Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4. Robson plays the world No 82, Melanie Oudin of the United States, with the winner likely to face a second-round encounter with Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion.
Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion and world No 1, could face a semi-final showdown with Serena Williams, who has won the last two Grand Slam tournaments. Williams's sister, Venus, could play Maria Sharapova, the world No 2, in the third round.
Britain's Colin Fleming, whose regular partner Ross Hutchins is being treated for cancer, yesterday reached the doubles final in Auckland in partnership with the Brazilian Bruno Soares. Fleming and Soares defeated Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek to set up a final against Johan Brunstrom and Freddie Nielsen.
Wizard of Oz? Murray's potential route to the final
Round 1: Robin Haase (Netherlands, age 25, world No 54) Big serve and forehand but Haase has lost 12 of his last 14 matches.
Round 2: Joao Sousa (Portugal, 23, No 100) Lost to Marcel Granollers in 2012 French Open, his only main draw match at a Grand Slam.
Round 3: Florian Mayer (Germany, 29, No 28) Unorthodox two-handed style can confuse some but Murray beat him in their only previous meeting on clay in Rome two years ago.
Round 4: Gilles Simon (France, 28, No 16) No 6 in world rankings four years ago. Beat Murray in their first meeting in 2007 but has since lost to him nine times in a row.
Quarter-finals: Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina, 24, No 7) Missed nearly all of 2010 with serious wrist injury but showed last year he is near to recapturing form that saw him win US Open in 2009. Has lost to Murray in five out of six meetings but has not played him for four years.
Semi-finals: Roger Federer (Switzerland, 31, No 2) Has beaten Murray in three Grand Slam finals but lost to him in gold medal match at 2012 Olympics. Murray has won 10 of their 19 meetings.
Final: Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 25, No 1) Has won 10 of his 17 meetings with Murray, including the two most recent. Going for fourth Australian Open title.Reuse content