Murray back Down Under a year older and a lot wiser

Roger Federer named Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as players he expected to challenge for the game's major honours.

"I think we'll see more of the younger generation, people like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic," he said. "I was a bit sceptical about them a year ago because their results in the Grand Slam events were very bad. They didn't really get as far as everybody was suggesting. I think this year will be better for them."

Murray hopes to start proving Federer's point when he begins his campaign in the year's opening Grand Slam tournament tomorrow against Spain's Alberto Martin. The British No 1 should win, though the draw has not been kind to him. The second round in particular, against Paul-Henri Mathieu or Fernando Verdasco, is a potential minefield. Jarkko Nieminen, the world No 17, is Murray's projected third-round opponent, followed by Rafael Nadal, the world No 2.

However, the 19-year-old Scot wisely refuses to look beyond even his first-round match. Twelve months ago he was favourite to beat Juan Ignacio Chela at the first hurdle but found himself on an early flight home.

"It was probably one of the best things that happened to me," Murray said. "I learnt so much from that loss and from how poorly I played. I learnt about what I was doing on the court and what was going wrong off the court. I realised I had to address it - and I feel that I did.

"I started working harder after the Australian Open and realised that I had to work on certain areas of my game that weren't good enough. I won a tournament a couple of weeks later [in San Jose] and I think that showed that I realised that I had to start working hard. And when I did, the results paid off."

Murray, who last year climbed from No 65 in the world to 17, added: "I feel like I can be myself a bit more off the court now, which makes me feel much better. Roger Federer is the perfect example of someone who is totally at ease with life. He always seems pretty chilled out. That's the sort of direction I think you have to take. I feel as though I'm starting to take a step in the right direction."

Twelve months ago tensions were beginning to surface in the relationship between Murray and Mark Petchey, his coach. This year he feels much happier with the team around him. Brad Gilbert, Petchey's successor, has helped to raise his game and Murray is enjoying the company of his brother, Jamie, who is playing in the doubles here, his girlfriend, Kim Sears, and his mother, Judy. "It's just nice having a lot of people around," he said. "Brad and my brother get on great."

Murray was scathing when he recalled his performance against Chela last year. "I didn't really know what I was doing," he said. "On some points I was being stupidly aggressive - and that's not me. I like to change up the pace, to play consistently and take my chances when they come.

"I've tried to add more things into my game so that this year, if things aren't going so well, I can change it up. I can come to the net for example.

"I think last year I had one way of playing and when that wasn't going well, I went into shutdown. I lost my head and didn't really know what to do. This year I feel that I have more ways of playing."

There are two Britons in the main draw after Alan Mackin, the world No 270, successfully negotiated the qualifying competition. The 25-year-old Scot, who will be playing in his first Grand Slam tournament outside Wimbledon, beat three higher-ranked players, Davide Sanguinetti (No 101), Alex Bogomolov Jnr (243) and Federico Luzzi (137). In the first round he plays Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti, the world No 68.

Murray believes that Mackin has the potential to be a top 100 player. "He just needs to learn to relax a little bit on the court," Murray said. "He can get a little bit uptight sometimes and I think when he learns to do that, he's in great shape. He works very hard and he's got a good head on his shoulders."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Life and Style
tech Manband spurn Spotify to stream album exclusively with Google
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
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.

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?