It may have been the first Grand Slam of the season, and it may have been a crushing defeat, but things are looking good for Andy Murray in 2016.
Murray lost to fierce rival Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) in Melbourne on Sunday morning, his fifth defeat in the final, taking his Grand Slam conversion record to two in nine but all the signs were there to suggest a big season lies ahead.
With the sudden illness of his father-in-law and the imminent birth of his first child, Murray played some of the best tennis of his career, notably in his semi-final comeback against Milos Raonic. All this points to a player with heart and ultimately someone who is primed and ready to go in what could be a big year.
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Losing to Djokovic is no disgrace, after all, victory for the Serbian landed his a record-equalling sixth Australian open. With the bubble bursting around Rafael Nadal and the ever-advancing years of Roger Federer – this final pairing looks like one we could be seeing even more in the coming years.
Whilst Murray may not be quite hitting the heights of his golden summers of 2012 - when he won the gold medal at London 2012 - and the Wimbledon victory of 2013, you have to feel that he's heading back to his best. Wimbledon and the U.S. Open will be big targets and the lure of a first French Open final will also be high on the agenda, especially with the aforementioned decline of Nadal.
It is astonishing that so many are noting the gulf in class between Murray and Djokovic, sure the world number one has a 22-9 record over the Brit - most of these coming in semi-finals and finals - but the Scotsman’s stats all add up.
He beats Djokovic in nearly over a third of their matches and boasts a 76.99% win rate against all opponents since turning pro in 2005.
All in all, Murray can fly back to Britain as an expecting father with his head held high, and if he continues to progress following back surgery like he is, then I'm sure this could be his best year to date.
Do you agree, is this Murray’s big year, can he add to his Major titles. Leave us a comment in the box below.