Federer amused at Murray being favoured for Australian Open

January 13th, 2009 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererSydney, Jan 13 (IANS) Roger Federer is amused that bookies are rating Britain’s rising tennis star Andy Murray as the favourite to win the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open that begins next Monday.Federer arrived in Melbourne early Monday and was quick to mention Murray’s barren grand slam status.

“It does not help him a whole lot,” Federer, the world No.2 and triple Australian Open winner was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald. “I’ve been in that position before as well and did not make it.”

“But look, he has put himself into a great position. He started off well, playing well in Doha, finished strong last year, but it still does surprise me that the bookies say that, because he has never won a slam. Novak (Djokovic) is the defending champion here. Rafa (Nadal) had an incredible season last year. I won the last slam of last season. It’s surprising to hear.”

Murray has beaten Federer five times, apart from US Open final loss in September and their first meeting in 2005. His most significant recent win was at the Qatar Open in Doha last week.

They are rated joint Melbourne Park favourites by TAB Sportsbet at $3.50.

Asked about Murray’s improvement, Federer pinpointed the Scot’s ability to play at a high level consistently.

“Before, he was very up and down,” he said. “But I think he has shown now he is knocking on the door, he has been able to make his move, he is a good all-round player, he has good tactics, he has become very confident and you can see that every time.”

Federer and Nadal have shared 14 of the past 15 grand slam titles, with only third-ranked Djokovic breaking the nexus when he triumphed in Australia last year. So is Murray ready to win a major title?

“Sure, he has put himself into a winning position, but still, winning a grand slam is a different animal. Not many guys have been able to win grand slams in the last years.”

Federer returns to Australia as something other than the defending champion for the first time since 2006.

Although within one title of equalling the grand slam record held by Pete Sampras, Federer claimed the pressure he had felt at the height of his domination about six or seven slams ago was now far less acute.

“Everybody was expecting me to win every single tournament I entered, almost. So that has gone away a little bit, which has been a bit of a relief actually,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s opening round-robin match against Carlos Moya.

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