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Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Murray building up for success

Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January-1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, BBC One & Two (including all Murray's matches), Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)

By Annie McGuire
BBC Scotland reporter in Melbourne

Andy Murray
Murray has been training hard during the close season

For Scots - a nation raised on a diet of glorious sporting failure - the next couple of weeks could be something of a challenge.

One of our own is favourite to win an elite sporting event and is showing no signs of last-minute calamity or, indeed, overblown confidence.

There was no Argentina 1978-style, open-top bus send-off as he left for the airport.

Instead, Andy Murray's preparation for the Australian Open consisted of beating the top two players in the world and picking up his first title of the season in Doha.

There could be many more to follow.

Despite going out here in the first round on two previous occasions, Murray says this is still his favourite of the Grand Slams.

Among the media throng in the interview garden on Saturday, he described how everything in Melbourne seems so easy to do.

And, so far, that has certainly been the case.

The draw has been as kind as it could be, although he claims that because of past experiences here he has not looked beyond the first round.

Yes, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who knocked Murray out of last year's tournament, lurks as a possible quarter-final opponent.

But the Frenchman is struggling with a back injury and the other seeds in his quarter, Jurgen Meltzer and Radek Stepanek, look unlikely to end Murray's unbeaten start to the year.

If that run does continue, it will mean a likely semi-final against world number one Rafael Nadal - and a final against Roger Federer.


The latter has been surprisingly prickly about Murray being seen as favourite here when one might expect a player of his experience and stature to rise above the likes of what is going on down the local bookmakers.

Nadal, meanwhile, says simply that Murray is ready to take his first Slam.

And that is the general mood here in Australia among press and players alike.

Not that Murray will do it, more that he has all the weapons in his arsenal to make it happen.

Physically, he appears much stronger, even since the last time I caught up with him in Shanghai in November.

Video - Muscular Murray trains in Melbourne

A 6,000 calories a day habit may be nothing new in some parts of Scotland, but for Murray it has been made up of sushi and peanut butter - and has resulted in the addition of another 8lbs of muscle to his 6ft 3ins frame.

Mentally too, Murray now seems mature beyond his 21 years and his relationship with the media has improved exponentially over the last year or so.

In the sunshine here on Saturday, he was graciously accepting soft drinks from journalists in between interviews on everything from his favourite restaurant in Melbourne to the future scheduling of this event.

The good news for those back in the UK is that all his matches will be live on either BBC One or BBC Two around breakfast time.

Set your alarms for what could finally be a Scottish sports story with a happy ending.

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see also
Murray on a mission
15 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Murray turns up the heat
22 May 08 |  Tennis
The Murray machine
07 Aug 07 |  Tennis

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