MELBOURNE, Australia -- The novelty of being the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 76 years is about to give way to the reality of being a reigning major winner.
It's just another reason Andy Murray has found to keep Ivan Lendl in his corner.
Murray's career-changing win at the U.S. Open in September came shortly after his breakthrough win at the London Olympics, where he avenged a painful defeat on the same court to Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old Scot said it was the most intense three months of his life. And now he is days away from his first Grand Slam event since, and at a venue where he has twice lost in the final.
"Obviously, the last few years I got close but never managed to get over the final hurdle," he said of his four previous failures in Grand Slam finals.
Murray's biggest obstacles to a second Grand Slam remain top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for a third consecutive Australian Open title, and No. 2-ranked Federer. Murray landed in the same half of the draw as Federer, meaning they could potentially meet in the semifinals.
Serena Williams has won five Australian Open titles, and with a run of 35 victories in her last 36 matches, is among the top contenders again in Melbourne. Her run includes the titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open, the WTA Championship and the Brisbane International last week.
Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka will likely have
In recent seasons, Murray has arrived in Australia to answer questions about that long British drought that dated to Fred Perry's last major win in 1936. Not anymore. Since Lendl first joined him as coach this time last year, the pair have worked together to hone his game. Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam finals, as well, before going on to win eight majors.
So Murray is confident that Lendl's guidance will serve him well. "Having someone like Ivan around me as well -- he went through a similar sort of thing -- so that's obviously helped as well," Murray said. "He's given me some advice on how to deal with certain things that come with winning big events."