Interesting that, unlike Rafter, the writer of this article thinks Andy can win the tournament.
DON'T WRITE MURRAY OFF [Sporting Life, 11 Jan]
Our man at the Australian Open, Tim Clement, previews the tournament and says Andy Murray should not be written off.
The 2014 season begins in earnest at Melbourne Park with the game's top trio expected to consolidate their command of the game.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray each head into the event with strong cases to be made for lifting the trophy, while it would be a significant upset for any other player to prevail.
Djokovic is Sky Bet's odds-on favourite having won the event four times, including the last three instalments, Nadal holds the number one spot and the most recent major title and Murray is Wimbledon champion and serial finalist here.
The trio cleaned up not only all three Grand Slams in 2013 but also all nine Masters events - making it very difficult to look elsewhere Down Under.
Question marks do, however, surround Murray as he returns from back surgery and heads into the event with just two competitive and three exhibition matches under his belt.
Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer might catch the eye of some at double-figure odds but were very inconsistent last year, while David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych offered little to suggest it could be their event.The court
A variation of hardcourt called Plexicushion has been use at Melbourne Park and the Australian warm-up events since 2008, offering a more predictable a lower bounce than the old Rebound Ace. There have been contrasting reviews of how the courts are playing, with Nadal suggesting they are quicker than before, while Murray insists they are exactly the same as last year.The weather
Having personally made the difficult adaption from British winter to Australian summer, I can confirm it is somewhat warm. Indeed, Australia has just endured its hottest year on record and the heat shows no sign of easing up for the fortnight of action at Melbourne Park. Although night play makes the conditions significantly more bearable for those favourably scheduled, temperatures are forecast to reach close to 40C in the first week. That means matches could be halted with the tournament's heat policy coming into play.The draw
Djokovic was the clear benefactor from the draw, with Sky Bet reacting by cutting his odds from 6/5 to 5/6. With exception to Nadal's dominance of the French Open, it is very rare to see a player go off odds-on for a Grand Slam but his route to the final looks as straight-forward as they come. Murray was handed Federer in his quarter while Del Potro is placed in with Nadal, leaving David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych as the highest-ranked players in the reigning champion's path.The contenders (and Sky Bet odds)
Novak Djokovic (5/6)
...........Rafael Nadal (3/1)
...........Andy Murray (9/1)
Murray will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Nadal by reaching new highs after addressing a long-term injury problem. The Scot missed the end of 2013 due to back surgery and will be hoping to rediscover his top form quickly after indifferent preparations. However, with an abundance of experience and confidence of achieving his ultimate goal at Wimbledon last summer, neither fitness nor form should be a major concern. Despite having ridden his back of monkeys at Flushing Meadows and SW19, there is certainly a sense of unfinished business at a place where he has thrice ended as the losing finalist.Juan Martin del Potro (11/1)
...........Roger Federer (12/1)
...........Best of the rest
Everything seems to point towards Djokovic lifting the trophy again and it takes a convoluted mindset to justify opposing him. However, that's exactly what I'm going to do in backing Murray to triumph here. The Scot has fresh motivation following his lay-off and is armoured with what should now be an unwavering self-belief. Nadal was the man of 2013 but, having sat in on his press conference on Saturday, you get the sense that he does not feel entirely comfortable at Melbourne Park, having complained about the court speed and his hard luck with injuries. At 9/1 Murray looks overpriced and following his recent achievements he now commands the confidence and experience of getting over the finish line.Best bet:
Andy Murray to win the Australian Open - 9/1
Andy Murray to beat Novak Djokovic in the final - 12/1Full article