ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Andy Murray is feeling less pressure after winning his first Grand Slam title and credits coach Ivan Lendl with having made the difference at the U. S. Open.
The third-ranked Briton ensured 2012 was the best year of his career by adding the title at Flushing Meadows to his gold medal from the London Olympics. As a result, he will enter the Australian Open next month with a different mindset.
"In the last three, four or five years there has been significant pressure in my mind, and now I feel more relaxed and relieved after winning the U. S. Open," Murray said Wednesday. "So, I think from my side, I hope to take the pressure off myself and be able to play a little bit more relaxed — and I hope to repeat my Grand Slam win.
"I don't know how I will feel going into the first round of Australian Open, so it will be a new feeling for me and I just have to deal with it."
Murray was speaking at a news conference to promote a winner-takes-all $250,000 exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi that will serve as part of his preparations for the Australian Open, which runs from Jan. 14-27.
Murray hired Lendl on last New Year's Eve, and is full of the praise for the changes the eight-time Grand Slam champion has helped him make in his game.
"He helped with a lot of small things; you know, technical things, small mental and psychological things and small physical things as well as tactical things," Murray said. "A lot of those small things add up to five to 10 percent to my game, and that was what I needed to find to make it past the last hurdle and win one of the major tournaments.
"I have enjoyed working with him a lot. It is turning out well, so I hope it continues."
Having lost in the final at Wimbledon this year, Murray's plans now are to go one better at his home major tournament and become the top-ranked player in the world — but he doesn't plan on playing more events to achieve the second of those goals.
"Every year when Wimbledon comes around I'm desperate to win and do well. It's an incredibly tough event and a lot of pressure during that time of the year," he said. "The No. 1 ranking is what every player wants to get. I can improve my ranking just playing like I have done last season and the rest of the tour. I don't want to add extra tournaments and mess up my schedule to try to reach No. 1."
Murray plays Janko Tispsarevic on Thursday in the opening match of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. That will be followed by David Ferrer taking on Tomas Berdych. Novak Djokovic and Nicolas Almagro, who replaced Rafael Nadal, are also in the field.