“I love it here. Played some great matches as well, but just haven’t managed to win the final. But, you know, I keep coming back to try. I’ll keep doing that until I’m done,” said the top-seeded Andy Murray after his stuttering 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 first-round victory over Illya Marchenko at the 2017 Australian Open on Monday.

It’s one of the several reasons why this could be the Brit’s best shot at getting rid of the monkey on his back and ending the search for his maiden title at the Rod Laver Arena.

Rich vein of form

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The 29-year-old is coming into 2017 on the back of a stupendous 2016 season that ultimately resulted in him taking home the year-end Number One Player in the World title, and not to forget, a knighthood as well.

Flying high on a remarkable 78-9 record last year, (Sir) Murray also claimed his second Wimbledon winner’s trophy, an Olympic singles gold medal and the ATP World Tour Finals.

Rivals past prime

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With Roger Federer returning from a lengthy break after injury and Rafael Nadal not at the peak of his abilities, the biggest challenge to the Scot comes from Novak Djokovic, who he had displaced at the top of the pecking order recently.

The Serb got the better of Murray when they last locked horns at the final in Doha earlier this month. But the current World No 1 had beaten his rival twice in their previous three meetings – his best run against Nole since 2012.

Of finals lost and won

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Murray has reached five finals in Melbourne so far and has been second-best in all of them. No man has done better in the history of the Slam without lifting the trophy. It was only last year that Djokovic ended his dry run at the French Open after three unsuccessful finals and his nemesis could take cue from the same.

Playing at top of his game, Andy Murray is in for a rub of green at the Rod Laver Arena. To his credit, he is the only tennis player to be knighted since Australian legend Norman Brookes. Interestingly, the men’s winner trophy at the Australian Open is named after Brookes. No foreshadowing, please!


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