World number one Andy Murray returns to the court in Abu Dhabi on Friday hoping a change of preparations can help deliver an elusive Australian Open title next month.
The Scot ended the 2016 tour at the top of the ATP Rankings after claiming both the Wimbledon and Olympic crowns, and defeating previous top seed Novak Djokovic to win the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
More than a month on from that victory, Murray faces David Goffin in the semi-finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic have also entered, before heading to the Qatar Open next week after deciding to enter a Tour event prior to the Australian Open.
It is the first time in three years Murray has elected to take such an approach and his hope is that can help him be victorious in Melbourne, where he is a five-time runner up.
“This year I just fancy doing something different,” Murray said in quotes published in The National.
“It hasn’t worked for me at the Aussie Open in the last few years. Probably nothing to do with my preparations, but it (going to Doha) splits the journey a little bit as well.
“So to split that trip up from doing one long trip to Australia might help. But I have enjoyed playing in Abu Dhabi and Doha in the past. I have had some success in Doha, so hopefully it will work well for me.
“It seems to have worked well for Novak as well over the years; hopefully it works for me too.”
The six-man tournament started on Thursday, with Nadal beating Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-4 in just 75 minutes and Goffin edging Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 6-4.