Andy Murray needs to tap into the knowledge of some of the "icons of the game" if he is to move from grand slam contender to champion, according to six-time major winner Boris Becker. Murray was in tears after Sunday's 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11) defeat by Roger Federer in the Australian Open final - his second grand slam final defeat. He was swept aside by Federer in the 2008 US Open final.
Sunday's loss was closer, but not by much, as only in the third set did the Briton begin to show the aggression and risk-taking necessary to disturb Federer's cruise to his 16th grand slam. Becker said that Murray had played the best major tournament of his career in Melbourne but that it had also revealed that he needs to work on his aggression. "How assertive he was in the final was always going to be crucial. At the very start of the match he went head to head with Roger, but he then reverted to his usual defensive game, and allowed Roger to play such great tennis," Becker wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph.
"Even when he had set points, in the third set, he could not take the big step. He tried to attack, but a mid-court forehand let him down. It is not a shot he would usually select, and on the big points, tennis players revert to instinct. "It was a revealing moment, and one which showed that Andy now needs to improve technically, to ingrain the killer shot so deep inside him that it becomes instinctive to play it at the right moment, like Roger. That is the next stage in his progression.
"I was looking at Andy's box during the match and there was no one up there who knows what it is like to be out in a grand slam final. "Don't get me wrong, 'Team Murray' are first rate - they have made Andy the third best player on the planet - but you cannot learn the skills you need out on the centre court from a book, or from hearsay. "You need to talk to people like John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, someone Andy would listen to and respect.
"For Murray, it is now about playing the right shot at the right time, not running or going to the gym." Meanwhile, Greg Rusedski, the former British No 1, said there is no doubt that Murray would win a major title. "I thought Andy was brilliant during the two weeks and he has shown signs that he is mixing his game up well," said Rusedski. "He was hitting powerfully on the baseline, serve and volleying and he has also worked hard on his serve.
"Unfortunately that let him down a bit in the final but Federer was phenomenal and I don't think anyone could have beaten him in that form. "Andy has just had the misfortune to face the greatest player in the game in both his finals. "But Andy will keep progressing. Federer is currently 28 and further on in his career and Andy has shown he can beat the likes of [Marin] Cilic, [Rafael] Nadal and [Juan Martin] del Potro regularly, so if he keeps progressing he is going to win a slam."
Rusedski's view is shared by Pat Rafter, the man who beat him in the 1997 US Open final. "Murray will win one - it's a question of when, not if," said the Australian. * With agencies