Murray aims to roll back the clock Down Under

Andy Murray was due to play his first match of the year in the small hours of this morning at the Hopman Cup in Perth but the world No 4's focus is firmly fixed on a bigger prize. Just as he did 12 months ago, Murray is using the mixed team event as his main preparation for the Australian Open, which begins in a fortnight's time.

Having played some of the best tennis of his career in Melbourne last year, when he lost to Roger Federer in the final, Murray is preparing in similar fashion for the first Grand Slam event of the new season. While Federer and Rafael Nadal will again make this week's Qatar Open their main warm-up tournament, Murray believes that playing and practising in Perth will ensure that he arrives at Melbourne Park in the best possible shape.

Conditions in Doha can be chilly, but the temperature in Perth yesterday approached 40C. The Hopman Cup is played indoors because of the heat, but Murray also practises outdoors to help him acclimatise. He arrived in Perth last week from Miami, where he had spent the last month at his winter training camp.

"I train in Miami to try and get some good weather, but it's still like 75 Fahrenheit [24 C] there and it's obviously 100 [38 C] here," Murray said yesterday on the eve of his opening match against Italy's Potito Starace. "It still takes time – for me at least 10 days – to get used to the conditions."

He added: "This tournament for me last year was perfect preparation. Last year's Aussie Open was one of the best events I've played in my life. I played some of my best tennis there. I'll have to play even better if I want to win, because Rafa and Roger are playing so well just now.

"I've worked a lot on my serve and I'll keep working on it the next couple of weeks. 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."

Murray said his final match of 2010, when he lost to Nadal in a three-hour thriller in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London's 02 Arena, had bolstered his confidence. "It was a great match, one of the best matches I'd played in during the year," he said. "I think both of us played a really high standard and it was a good way in many ways to finish the year."

Playing at the Hopman Cup ensures that Murray will get at least three singles and three doubles matches under his belt this week. His other singles matches will be against Nicolas Mahut and John Isner while he will partner Laura Robson in mixed doubles for the second year in succession. Robson, who is teaming up with her new coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, at a tournament for the first time, will face Francesca Schiavone, Kristina Mladenovic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in her singles matches.

Nadal and Federer, who are the top two seeds in Doha, met in neighbouring Abu Dhabi on Saturday in the final of an exhibition event. "For both of us, these are the first matches of the season, so it is special for us," Nadal said after his 7-6, 7-6 victory. "This is the perfect place to start the season."

Federer, who let slip a 3-0 lead in the first tie-break, said: "I never lost my serve but I still lost the tournament. It's kind of tough. Rafael and myself must have played so many times and so many times it has come down to a few shots here and there. He is an amazing shot-maker. Me as well, but today he got the better of me."

Britain’s Heather Watson reached the main draw of the WTA event in Auckland, New Zealand, after winning her third qualifying match in succession last night, beating Italy’s Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-2. Katie O’Brien, who was facing Thailand’s Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in a later qualifying match, was hoping to join her.

Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki, who brought down the curtain on the 2010 season by contesting the final of the WTA Championships, began the new campaign in similar fashion, with the Belgian again beating the Dane. Clijsters won their exhibition match in Hua Hin, Thailand, 6-3, 4-6, 12-10, securing victory after a champions tie-break.

Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines