Andy Murray believes that he has closed on the world number one despite losing out to Novak Djokovic in a mammoth semi final at the Australian Open.
The Scott was meeting the Serb in a re-match of last year’s final and Murray produced one of the performances of his career to come within inches of victory.
And while the world number four is looking to get his hands on his first Grand Slam title he now believes that he can more than match the three players above him.
Speaking to the BBC after the match Murray said: "I think that gap, I feel tonight I closed it. My job over the next two or three months is to surpass him [Djokovic] and the guys in front of me."
"Everybody matures at different ages and different rates. I feel now like I'm ready mentally [to challenge the top three].
"Physically I can still get better, for sure. But in comparison to how I played last year, it was much, much better.
"Tonight's match was important for many reasons. Obviously I wanted to win first and foremost, but after last year, the year that Novak had, I think there's a very fine line between being number one in the world and being three or four."
After coming through the tie break of a long third set, which lasted almost ninety minutes, Murray had edged ahead 2-1.
But he couldn’t keep up that intensity as Djokovic dropped just a single game in the fourth to level at 2-2.
But at 5-2 down in the fifth and deciding set Murray made a remarkable come back as he broke Djokovic as he served for the set to see the momentum once again swing in his favour.
But at 5-5 Murray was unable to take the break point chances he carved out for himself as Djokovic held and broke in the next game to take a 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 victory.
It’s been all change in the Murray camp in the off season as he has taken on Ivan Lendl as coach - and you can see that this partnership is already having an influence on the Murray game. While the Scot did show moments of frustration throughout the match he didn’t let it effect his concentration as he kept his anger in check.
The pair has only worked together for a few weeks but by the time that Wimbledon and the U.S. Open roll round Murray could well be getting that first Grand Slam under his belt.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw