Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Murray Fires Warning to Nadal as He Plays Blinder with Locals; British No1 Says He 'Fears No-One' Ahead of Tomorrow's Showdown after Finding a New Legion of Fans. Chris Jones in Melbourne

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Murray Fires Warning to Nadal as He Plays Blinder with Locals; British No1 Says He 'Fears No-One' Ahead of Tomorrow's Showdown after Finding a New Legion of Fans. Chris Jones in Melbourne

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

ANDY MURRAY today sent out a defiant message to defending champion Rafael Nadal today, insisting he no longer fears anyone in the sport, on the eve of their Australian Open quarter-final clash.

Murray got as high as No2 in the world last year, as Nadal struggled with knee and abdominal injuries, and now the British No1 is aiming to prove that even without a Grand Slam title, he is the real deal. Murray's message was clear: "I am not going to get blown off the court against anyone."

If body language has any part in tomorrow's battle, then Murray is playing a blinder, winning over the locals with an impromptu autograph signing session after practise that showed just how at ease the 22-year-old is at this event.

The brooding "don't get in my face" attitude he adopts during the maelstrom that is Wimbledon was left in London, allowing fans to take the liberty of grabbing him around the neck and pushing themselves cheek-tocheek for photographs with the No5 seed. He handled the attention with good humour, a state of mind that existed throughout his practise against close friend Ross Hutchins.

Hutchins, Britain's top doubles player, is sharing an apartment right in the heart of the city with Murray and has been happy to do the cooking. "It's a nice relaxing tournament," said Murray, who would face a semi-final against either No7 seed Andy Roddick or Marin Cilic if he overcomes Nadal. "It's a Slam, so there's obviously pressure but we're staying so close -- it's five minutes away and we're in nice apartments. We are having good food so it's easy not to get stressed out. Ross's cooking has been good."

Having split from long-term girlfriend Kim Sears before Christmas, this was always going to be a different trip for Murray but it has been a great success.

Murray, who has a 2-7 record against Nadal, has not dropped a set getting into his first quarter-final here while showing improvements to his game.

While Murray's first-serve percentage can drop alarmingly, the second has more "pop" and kick than before, while his world-class backhand is now supplemented by a top spin cross-court forehand that lands deep and forces an opponent into the tramlines. …

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