Tag Archives: melbourne

Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Lewis Hamilton 37 points clear of Jenson Button – Phil Duncan

The Chequered Flag: Hamilton streaks clear of Button as McLaren continue to struggle

with arguably the most complete package on the grid while a top-10 finish for Mercedes became as rare as a nun in a bikini. We mustn’t forget that in the final six races of last season, the Silver Arrows managed only one points-scoring finish when Michael Schumacher ended his F1 career with a seventh place at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

he’d gathered 43.

At the same stage this year, he is 10th in the championship with just 13 points. Unlucky for some. Unlucky for Button.

For his old sparring partner however, this season, in terms of points attained, ranks as a better start for Hamilton than both the 2010 and 2012 seasons.

Indeed with a total of 50 already on the championship table, the 2008 world champion has collated a bigger haul than the man who he replaced – that’s Michael Schumacher for those of you with a short-term memory – managed in 20 outings for the German manufacturer last season.

Off the pace: Button and McLaren have endured a slow start to the season

Promising start: Hamilton has already amassed more points than Schumacher did in his whole Mercedes career

More on Twitter…

You can follow Phil at: @PhilDuncanF1

I cannot recall a time when Hamilton was so happy to finish fifth, but the British star knows Bahrain is Mercedes’ achilles heel, and the fact that he leaves the Gulf Kingdom with a decent haul of points after a troubled weekend, will provide him and his team with a major boost as Formula One heads back to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks time.

We should make no bones about it, Hamilton can fight for this year’s title. But whether he will be able to rival Vettel, whose performance yesterday illustrated exactly why he is a triple world champion, remains to be seen.

The same however, probably cannot be said of Button. The McLaren is already beginning to look like a better-tamed beast than the unruly animal which was unleashed in Melbourne over a month ago. But that said, the British star is already 64 points behind Vettel.

Barcelona will provide the Woking-based team with the acid test; a poor weekend in Spain usually translates to a poor season.

And Button, who has finished on the Spanish podium only twice in 12 previous attempts, will want his focus in Barcelona to be on the sharp end of the pack and not banging wheels with team-mate Sergio Perez while fighting for the menial places as in Bahrain.

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix are already turning their attention to next season and the 10th anniversary of their hotly-disputed race.

‘We are looking at many options,’ Zayed Al Zayani, chairman of the event, told AUTOSPORT today.

‘A night race is one of them, but it is not the only one,’ he continued. ‘It is our tenth race and our tenth anniversary, so we want to do something different.’

It is also being suggested that the race could be moved to the opening weekend of the season. I for one hope this isn’t the case.

Australia should play host to every Formula One curtain raiser in my opinion, but I guess money will talk…

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Driver of the Day

So close, yet so far. Paul Di Resta was on course to become the first Scottish driver on the podium in almost five years before he was overtaken by Romain Grosjean in the closing stages of yesterday’s race.

Nevertheless, it ranked as an impressive weekend for the 27-year-old who looks to have the bit between his teeth in his third season with Force India.

The Scot has made no secret of his desire to race for a bigger team, and after being snubbed by McLaren, what better way to bounce back than by doing your talking on the track.

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth

Australia stars Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna suspended after Melbourne Rebels team bus brawl

Two Wallaby stars suspended for punch-up on team bus after embarrassing club loss

By
Gerard Brand

PUBLISHED:

12:48 GMT, 24 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 24 March 2013

Australia utility back Kurtley Beale and fellow Wallaby Cooper Vuna have been suspended by the Melbourne Rebels after an incident on their team bus.

It followed the side's embarrassing 64-7 loss to the Durban-based Sharks in South Africa on Saturday.

The Rebels said in a statement Sunday that an internal investigation resulted in Beale, who did not play in the match due to a broken left hand, and winger Vuna being ordered to return to Australia.

Punching above their weight: Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Punching above their weight: The Rebels were torn apart by Sharks in Durban

Kurtley Beale

Cooper Vuna of the Rebels

Suspended: Kurtley Beale (left) and Cooper Vuna (right, white shirt) will not play until the matter is resolved

Rebels coach Damien Hill said both Beale and Vuna had broken team protocols and as a result cannot be part of the team 'until the disciplinary process is complete.'

He added: 'The club will not tolerate this type of behavior and I am embarrassed for everyone associated.'

The Rebels launched a probe after it emerged that Beale may have punched Vuna in an altercation on the team bus.

Officials initially refused to name the individuals involved but tweets subsequently deleted by Vuna suggested Beale had assaulted him.

'I need to leave right now, this ain't for me! I tried to help someone but got punched so instead of putting him in hospital il [sic] leave!' Vuna posted in the early hours of the morning.

Catch up: Rebels are currently third bottom of the Super 15 league

Catch up: Rebels are currently third from bottom of the Super 15 league

But Hill added: 'The Club will not tolerate this type of behaviour and I am embarrassed for everyone associated with building this Club.'

Reports of the confrontation came after Hill had questioned whether his players had pride in the jersey.

'Our guys just didn't show up and it's quite embarrassing to be honest,' he said after his side's mauling at the ABSA Stadium.

'It's probably the worst defeat I've ever been associated with through the club, and I'm really questioning the pride these guys have in the jersey.

'Even though it's a new team, you've got to be prepared to leave blood on the field when you're playing a team like the Sharks. And our guys didn't.'

McLaren apologise to Red Bull for ruining Mark Webber"s start after ECU problem at Australian Grand Prix

McLaren apologise to Red Bull after ruining Webber's start in Melbourne

By
Simon Cass

PUBLISHED:

20:06 GMT, 19 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:06 GMT, 19 March 2013

McLaren have been forced to apologise to their Red Bull rivals for wrecking Mark Webber’s start to his home grand prix in Australia.

A software problem with the engine control unit (ECU) – the electronic brain supplied to all Formula One teams by McLaren which controls the powertrain, drag reduction system and acts as a car's primary data system – meant Webber’s system had to be rebooted during the formation lap.

That lack of vital information caused Webber to tumble through the order from second on the grid before eventually finishing sixth.

Compromised: Mark Webber suffered an ECU problem on the formation lap and lost ground at the start

Compromised: Mark Webber suffered an ECU problem on the formation lap and lost ground at the start

It's their fault: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner blamed McLaren for Webber's awful start in Melbourne

It's their fault: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner blamed McLaren for Webber's awful start in Melbourne

Home grand prix: Webber finished sixth on Sunday

Home grand prix: Webber finished sixth on Sunday

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, leapt to the defence of his driver post-race after he faced criticism for what appeared to be yet another poor start.

‘You need to go and ask McLaren why the ECU didn't work,’ said Horner. ‘That totally messed up his preparation.

‘By the time we'd reset the system, he'd lost the start and lost early ground.

'It's something they need to get on top of because there have been a lot of issues in early-season testing.’

After performing their own investigation, McLaren have issued a statement accepting they were at fault.

It read: ‘Mark and the team have our apology. We are working together with them to prevent any recurrence.’

The ECU is a new design for the 2013 season and has been introduced in preparation for the switch from V8’s to turbo-charged V6 engines next season.

Australian Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen storms to victory

Raikkonen delivers for Lotus as he storms to victory in Melbourne curtain raiser while Hamilton finishes fifth in Mercedes debut

PUBLISHED:

07:36 GMT, 17 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 17 March 2013

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen stormed to victory in the Australian Grand Prix in his best race on the Melbourne circuit for six years.

Fernando Alonso came in second while Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes.

Jenson Button finished a disappointing ninth for McLaren, while Sebastian Vettel came third for Red Bull.

Scroll down for leaderboard

Triumphant: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates after winning the first race of the season

Triumphant: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates after winning the first race of the season

1-2-3: Raikkonen (centre) celebrates with second-placed Fernando Alonso (left) and third-placed Sebastian Vettel

1-2-3: Raikkonen (centre) celebrates with second-placed Fernando Alonso (left) and third-placed Sebastian Vettel

Party time: The long wait for F1 fans was over at last as the season kicked off in style

Party time: The long wait for F1 fans was over at last as the season kicked off in style

Cruising: Raikkonen drives through the pit lane after driving the fastest lap of the race and securing victory

Cruising: Raikkonen drives through the pit lane after driving the fastest lap of the race and securing victory

Finnish driver Raikkonen took the lead for good on lap 43 of 58 in a race which had seven different leaders.

Speaking on the podium, he said: ‘I was pretty
confident before the race. I thought it should be easy to do it.

‘I got a good start and it worked well. I had doubts because
it is the first race and I didn't do any long runs in the winter. But you have
to get through the first laps and go from there.

‘Fernando was catching me at some point so I just wanted to
make sure if the rain comes we have a big gap.

On song: Finnish driver Raikkonen of Lotus led the way in the Melbourne Grand Prix

On song: Finnish driver Raikkonen of Lotus led the way in the Melbourne Grand Prix

No cigar: Fernando Alonso ran Raikkonen close but could not beat his rival

No cigar: Fernando Alonso ran Raikkonen close but could not beat his rival

Down the rankings: Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes

Down the rankings: Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in his first race for Mercedes

Hamilton

‘I was still taking it pretty easy. It was a pretty nice
race. Not too difficult.’

Lotus suggested during winter testing they had taken a step forward from last season, and they underlined that around Melbourne's Albert Park as Raikkonen took the chequered flag for the 20th time in his F1 career.

More to follow.

Holy smokes: Cars lock up their brakes as they approach the first corner of the Albert Park circuit

Holy smokes: Cars lock up their brakes as they approach the first corner of the Albert Park circuit

Frustration: Jenson Button drives in front of Mark Webber but neither driver will be happy with their finish

Frustration: Jenson Button drives in front of Mark Webber but neither driver will be happy with their finish

The gang's all here: The drivers pose for a group shot before the race

The gang's all here: The drivers pose for a group shot before the race

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Lewis Hamilton has played down former team-mate Jenson Button"s title chances

Forget Button, Alonso is the one I really have to beat: Hamilton sets his sights on driving back to the top with Mercedes

000005DC-773_634x344.jpg” width=”634″ height=”344″ alt=”The edge: Damon Hill believes Fernando Alonso will win the title ahead of Sebastian Vettel” class=”blkBorder” />

The edge: Damon Hill believes Fernando Alonso will win the title ahead of Sebastian Vettel

WHAT'S NEW THE TYRES

Pirelli have been instructed to supply tyres that will degrade faster. The subtle changes are designed to make them harder to manage by drivers, leading to more pit-stops and greater excitement. During winter testing the paddock was bewildered by the rate of tyre wear and this threatens to be significant in the early races. Speed may have to be sacrificed so tyres last longer.

To witness his victory in atrocious conditions in the final race of last season in Brazil — his 15th victory — was to see the baton being passed from Hamilton to Button inside the team.

‘It’s the right place for me to be for the long term,’ said Button, 33. ‘Some people have left because they feel there is another challenge or something missing from their position.

‘There is still so much to achieve here. When we had the launch of our 2013 car, it was amazing to see cars representing 50 years of McLaren brought out; to look at the team’s history and the championships won. We really are a spectacular team.

‘I want to add to that history; not just this year, but for the coming years.’ Button is at his most dangerous in Melbourne, having won three of the past four Australian Grands Prix, although where McLaren’s performance is in relation to Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, or, for that matter, Mercedes is a mystery — 12 days of inconclusive winter testing offered fluctuating evidence of the pecking order we can expect Down Under.

‘It’s been an extremely hard-to-read winter,’ said Button. ‘Varying fuel loads and levels of tyre degradation mean it’s hard to predict accurately who will arrive in Australia with the best-sorted car. But I love the place.’

Danger: Vettel is chasing his fourth World Championship

Danger: Vettel is chasing his fourth World Championship

WHAT'S NEW THE CIRCUITS

Bernie Ecclestone had hoped for a new race in New Jersey this year to replace Valencia in June but that hit money problems. There is a vacant date, which the underwhelming circuit in Turkey had hoped to fill. And if Portugal and Austria don’t get it, Europe’s weakening status in Formula One will be confirmed with just seven races this season — the fewest since 1963.

Hamilton has not taken a backward glance since he took the gamble last autumn of tying his future to Mercedes in exchange for a three-year contract worth 60million, with the freedom for his management company, XIX Entertainment, to broaden his commercial portfolio.

‘It needs to be made clear that it was more lucrative [in salary] to stay with McLaren,’ insisted Hamilton.

His motivation in moving from McLaren, where he could expect to challenge for the championship this season, is governed by an ambition to replicate what Michael Schumacher achieved, year after year, with Ferrari and what Vettel is accomplishing with his dominance at Red Bull. At McLaren, the hall of fame is inhabited by the ghost of Ayrton Senna.

At 28, Hamilton is arriving at his peak years with 21 victories already in a career that has never lacked controversy on the track, or off it. Perhaps he has never driven better than last year. ‘You want to be the one,’ he told a small gathering at the BRDC Clubhouse at Silverstone.

No 4: Max Chilton becomes the fourth British driver in F1

No 4: Max Chilton becomes the fourth British driver in F1

WHAT'S NEW THE DRIVERS

Max Chilton joins Lewis Hamilton (now with Mercedes on a 60million deal), Jenson Button and Paul di Resta as the fourth British driver in the championship after being fast-tracked by Marussia.

Chilton, 21, benefits from having AON insurance vice-chairman Grahame Chilton as his father. He is worth 93m and owns the Carlin Motorsport team, where Chilton raced in GP2.

An F1 seat for this season reportedly costs 1.8m but Chilton denies he is a spoilt rich kid. ‘No team are going to let you behind the wheel if you’re not up to it,’ he says. Even so, Pastor Maldonado contributes 29m to the williams team budget through sponsorship from Venezuela’s state oil company, and Williams’ newest driver, 21-year-old Valtteri Bottas, from Finland, found the budget to secure the seat from Bruno Senna.

Chilton will be joined at Marussia by Frenchman Jules Bianchi after the team’s first choice, Luiz Riaza, failed to deliver promised funding.

Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) and Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) have also paid for their seats, Which means five of the 22 drivers next week will be making their Formula One debut.
Susie Wolff, wife of McLaren shareholder and Mercedes director Toto Wolff, is McLaren’s development driver, the second woman recently in F1 after Marussia’s Maria de Villota, who lost an eye in a test drive last year.

‘I was the one for a short period of time, as the youngest world champion, then I was toppled by Vettel. Fernando had his success. I expect myself to win.

'I expect myself to excel. Ultimately, I want to achieve greatness. I want to prove my abilities year after year. Michael is seen as an all-time great, Seb is, too. I want to be seen as great as well.’

In winter testing, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have shown that Mercedes have made a startling improvement in performance after winning just one grand prix in the past three years.

‘I’m 100 per cent confident and happy with the decision that I made — and keeping myself out of trouble!’ said Hamilton.

‘The more time I spend at the factory the more excited I become. It’s just a beautiful place to be and I’m happier with the environment I’m in. I don’t have anything negative to say about McLaren — I was lucky to be given the opportunity by the team to get into Formula One.

‘Had I stayed I was guaranteed to be competitive.

'Yet I’m not looking to get one over McLaren. I know that I have gone to a team who have been unable to compete with the car I had last year — at some races, there was a deficit in qualifying of 1.9sec from Mercedes to McLaren — but we all have a hunger to change. I think Mercedes will impress this year.’

Hamilton will be driven to prove that he was correct to free himself from McLaren, where the management structure made him feel claustrophobic, to fulfil a search for ultimate greatness.

But with a nudge to his growing maturity, Hamilton said: ‘When I look at it sensibly, I realise I have quite a lot of time left.’

Australian Open: Andy Murray hails Novak Djokovic"s incredible record

Murray hails Djokovic's 'incredible' Australian Open record after four-set defeat

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

13:08 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:08 GMT, 27 January 2013

Andy Murray paid tribute to Novak Djokovic after losing in the Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

The Serb was too hot to handle for Murray in the third and fourth sets as he ran out 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2 in Melbourne.

Djokovic sealed his fourth Australian Open title and Murray praised the champion's 'incredible' record Down Under in the post-match presentation.

Beaten: Andy Murray had no answer to Novak Djokovic's onslaught in the third and fourth sets

Beaten: Andy Murray had no answer to Novak Djokovic's onslaught in the third and fourth sets

'I would like to congratulate Novak – his record here is incredible,' said Murray.

'Very few people have managed to do what
he has done here. He is a very well-deserved champion.

'To his team… I know you can't do this on your own and he has great people around him.

'I'd like to thank my team – they've done a great job with me.'

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Force: Djokovic was too good in the end for Murray as the Brit was forced to settle for the runners-up trophy

Djokovic, who lost the US Open final to Murray, responded: 'I have to thank Andy for his kind words.

'We have played so many thrilling
matches over the last few years. Bad luck tonight and I wish you luck
for the rest of the season.

'What a joy. It's an incredible
feeling winning this trophy again. It's definitely my favourite grand
slam, my most successful grand slam. I love this court.'

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Champion: Djokovic claimed his fourth Australian Open title with the four-set win

Missed chances: Murray won the first set but failed to take three break points early in the second

Missed chances: Murray won the first set but failed to take three break points early in the second

Fighter: Djokovic was on the ropes in the opening part of the match but he eventually wore Murray down

Fighter: Djokovic was on the ropes in the opening part of the match but he eventually wore Murray down

Hampered Murray had treatment for blisters

Hampered Murray had treatment for blisters

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final

Edge: Djokovic has won his last three matches against Murray since the US Open final


Repeat: It was the second time Djokovic played Murray in the Australian Open final after the Serb won in straight sets in 2011

Repeat: It was the second time Djokovic played Murray in the Australian Open final after the Serb won in straight sets in 2011

Winner: Djokovic also beat Murray in the semi finals last year

Winner: Djokovic also beat Murray in the semi finals last year


Too good: A Murray fan looks glum as the Scot couldn't live with Djokovic

Too good: A Murray fan looks glum as the Scot couldn't live with Djokovic

Andy Murray v Roger Federer LIVE AUSTRALIAN OPEN

LIVE: Murray v Federer – the action from the Australian Open semi-final as it happens

By
Martin Domin

PUBLISHED:

00:01 GMT, 25 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:16 GMT, 25 January 2013

Andy Murray is aiming to win his second Grand Slam title in Australia, but first he must navigate his way past old foe Roger Federer in the semi-final in Melbourne.

The pair have had their fair share of entertaining clashes and we look set for another today with Novak Djokovic lying in wait for the winner ahead of Sunday's final.

You can follow all the action here and get in touch by e-mailing [email protected]

8.15am: Although Murray leads Federer 10-9 on the head-to-head record, the Scot has never beaten the former world No 1 in a grand slam. Most recently, he was defeated in the Wimbledon final.

Murray did however earn revenge at the Olympics, winning the gold medal match in London.

8.10am: The temperature has dropped to around 20C in Melbourne as the opening slam of the season draws to a close. The two semi-finalists won't be on court before 8.30am UK time.

8am: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of Andy Murray's semi-final against Roger Federer.

One step away: Andy Murray must get past Roger Federer to make his third grand slam final in a row

One step away: Andy Murray must get past Roger Federer to make his third grand slam final in a row

Heather Watson beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in Australian Open 6-3, 6-1

End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013

There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.

Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.

Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.

It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.

Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.

She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Making the shot: Watson gets the ball over the net

Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.

At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.

Heather Watson

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected

After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.

The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

Australian Open 2013: Jamie Baker loses to Lukas Rosol in first round

Baker's Aussie dream is over after Brit falls to Nadal's Wimbledon conqueror Rosol

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

07:45 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:53 GMT, 15 January 2013

Jamie Baker was left to rue some missed opportunities as he fell in the first round of the Australian Open to the man who famously knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon last year.

Playing on a far outside court in the enormous shadow of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the 26-year-old Scot led in both the first and second sets before he became overpowered by the athletic figure of Czech Lukas Rosol 7-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a shade over two hours.

Having typically battled hard to make it through the qualifying event it was a disappointing outcome for the British No 2 but winning those three preliminary matches still makes it a decent start to the season for the world No 246.

Over and out: Jamie Baker lost at the first hurdle to Lukas Rosol at the Australian Open

Over and out: Jamie Baker lost at the first hurdle to Lukas Rosol at the Australian Open

Against 75th ranked Rosol, who played like Godzilla back in June to beat the stricken Nadal in five sets, he had to rely on his counterpunching skills from the back of the court but they served him well early on as his opponent started to get frustrated.

Baker broke for 6-5 in the opener when he played a clever chip-and-charge manoeuvre that brought an error from Rosol. Trying to serve it out, however, he allowed three break points against him and on the last one hit a forehand into the net.

The Briton, an off season training partner of Andy Murray in Miami, was always behind in the tiebreaker as Rosol threw caution to the wind and hit out to take it 7-5, having built up a 6-3 lead.

Cruise control: Rosol knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon and was in no mood to be shocked himself

Cruise control: Rosol knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon and was in no mood to be shocked himself

The second set was also a story of Baker not being able to capitalise on his lead as he went ahead 4-1 and 5-3 and again was unable to close it out. Rosol reeled off four games and Baker’s fighting spirit was sapped, with daylight between them in the third.

Consolation for the Scot is the 18,000 first-round loser’s money and a boost from his wins last week.

Having fought more than his fair share of injuries he is at least heading in the right direction.

Andy Murray pictures show added muscle ahead of Australian Open 2013

Muscle-bound Murray shows off bulked-up frame ahead of latest shot at Aussie Open

has left him hungry for more.

Murray enjoyed a breakthrough season last year when he became the first British male to win a grand slam in 76 years with his success at the US Open, while he was also crowned Olympic champion during a fairytale summer for the Scot.

The world No 3 is not ready to settle for that, though, and has spoken of his determination to keep on improving and adding to his title collection.

Andy Murray

Murray looks on during practice ahead of the Australian Open

Watch out, Australia: Andy Murray practices serving as coach Ivan Lendl looks on at Melbourne Park

Murray serves as his coach Ivan Lendl watches on during practice at Melbourne Park

Focused: Murray has his sights set on the Australian Open, which begins next Monday

Murray serves as his coach Ivan Lendl watches on during practice at Melbourne Park

Murray once again spent December building his fitness at a gruelling training camp in Miami before flying home briefly for Christmas and then on to Australia via the Middle East. While in Florida, Murray worked hard on his physical strength, doubling his weekly weightlifting sessions from two to four, in a bid to boost his shot power.

The result is an added three pounds of muscle to his already impressive frame. And, judging by the impressive pictures taken of the Scot in practice in Melbourne today, he is in peak physical condition ahead of his latest tilt at the year's opening grand slam title.

Speaking ahead of the upcoming Australian Open, where the 25-year-old will aim to improve on runners-up finishes in 2010 and 2011, Murray told the Daily Telegraph: 'The US Open and the Olympics made me extremely motivated.

'It wasn’t a case of, “Oh, everything’s done now”. It’s taken a long time to get there and to win those sorts of events.

Murray has been hard at work building his fitness over the winter

Murray has been hard at work building his fitness over the winter

What a specimen: Murray has been hard at work building his fitness during the break over the winter

Murray has been hard at work building his fitness over the winter

'I know the feeling when you do win them now and it’s worth all of the work that you put in.'

Prior to his success at Flushing Meadows, Murray had won 22 singles titles but had never managed to go all the way in a grand slam tournament, tasting defeat in four finals and reaching numerous semi-finals.

He added: 'In the past, there were loads and loads of questions. I wasn’t physically strong enough. I wasn’t mentally strong enough. I didn’t listen to my coaches. I was spoilt. Whatever it was, none of that really bothers me any more.

'I’m just looking for ways to keep improving.'

Although Murray has been working hard on the physical side of his game, he is adamant that the real difference between victory and defeat comes from brains, not brawn.

The Scot's love of boxing is well known – he counts David Haye as a close friend – so he was thrilled to meet former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis while filming for the BBC's SPOTY programme, where the pair talked training – and winning.

'Heavyweight boxing is the pinnacle of sport really, especially when he (Lewis) was fighting,' said Murray. 'So to get to pick his brains about certain things was nice.

'I asked a lot of questions about current boxers and how you train. He was saying boxing is 70 per cent mental, 30 per cent physical in the actual talent you need, and I think that applies to a lot of sports.

'The difference in how guys hit a ball is not that huge, but it’s about how you deal with the pressure moments and who can hold their nerve.

'When you get towards the end of sets, some guys make more mistakes than others.'

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES…

Murray at Melbourne Park last year

Murray flexes his muscles back in 2009

Murray's torso is noticeably less ripped during practice at Melbourne Park last year (left) while, despite his best Incredible Hulk impression, his still-impressive physique from 2009 (right) is not as muscular as today