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Federer questions Murray chances

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

Roger Federer
World number two Roger Federer says he is feeling fit and refreshed

World number two Roger Federer says he is "surprised" Andy Murray has been installed as joint favourite for the Australian Open by some bookmakers.

Murray has had a superb start to the year, retaining his Qatar Open title a week after beating world number one Rafael Nadal and Federer in Abu Dhabi.

"He's playing well, finished strongly last year, but I'm surprised that the bookies say that," said Federer.

Murray responded that being favourite "doesn't make any difference" to him.

Federer will be attempting to win a record-equalling 14th Grand Slam title when the Australian Open starts next week in Melbourne.

And the Swiss star warned that Murray, who lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round one last year, would not find it easy to add a first Grand Slam title to his list of successes.

I practised at one o'clock today and it was pretty grisly. Four hours in that heat is unbelievably tough

Andy Murray
"He's never won a Slam - winning a Slam is a different animal," said Federer. "Andy's shown for a year that he's knocking on the door. He's a good all-round player, has good tactics and he's full of confidence.

"But not many guys have been able to win Grand Slams over the last few years. Rafa [Nadal] and I have taken a lot of them. It doesn't happen that easily, but he has a chance like many other players."

Murray, who spent Tuesday practising in 37C heat in Melbourne, said he was comfortable with being tipped by many for the title.

"It doesn't make any difference whether people expect you to win or not. It doesn't change my mentality," said the Scot.

"You get used to being expected to win matches when you play at Wimbledon. The pressure that comes with that gets you used to these situations.

"The older you get, the more matches you play, you realise what the bookies are saying doesn't make any difference once you get on court, whether they are saying good things or bad things. You just get on with your job."

And with five wins in seven ATP matches against Federer, the 21-year-old Briton admitted that the fear factor was no longer an issue against the Swiss.

"The more you play against him the less fearful you are, you're not scared to win the match," said Murray. "If you're young and you play against the top guys, once you get close to winning you get nervous.

"Now when I play him I don't get nervous and if I play my best tennis I can beat him."

As well as the likes of Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the searing Melbourne heat could prove one of the toughest obstacles to overcome for Murray.

"I've never minded heat too much but this temperature is a problem for everyone," he said.

"Your feet burn on court and it's tough to catch your breath, but if you play on the bigger courts you usually get a bit of shade from the stadium so it's not too bad.

"I practised at one o'clock today and it was pretty grisly. Four hours in that heat is unbelievably tough. That's why you have to put in the work in December.

"But my game's coming together nicely. Very few people reach their peak in whatever they are doing at 21. That could still be two years away, but physically I'm in the best shape I could be. And if I play like I have been I've got a chance."

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see also
Murray's magical year
16 Nov 08 |  Tennis

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