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Andy Murray says he is lacking match fitness and has all but written off his chances of winning his third grand slam title at the Australian Open.
The British number one and Wimbledon champion is back in action after undergoing surgery to cure a long-standing back problem, which forced him to miss the final three months of the 2013 season.
The Scot made his reappearance in an exhibition event on Boxing Day before crashing out of the Qatar Open at the second round stage when losing to Florian Mayer in three sets.
Murray has reached three of the last four finals in Melbourne but says a lack of match sharpness will prevent him from going all the way this year.
“It’s tough to gauge. The way I was playing for half the match against Mayer I would be very happy with, but being able to maintain that for five sets is tricky,” Murray said.
“Having a day off between matches would help me and also I’m going to get fitter by playing matches, so there’s a possibility that if I can get through a couple of rounds I’ll start to feel better as the tournament goes on. My body will start to feel better.
“I wouldn’t expect to win the Australian Open. I’m just saying that I know that I’ve trained hard and physically I’ve done a lot of good work.
“But here was a perfect example of how you can be the fittest guy in the world but if you don’t play matches it’s completely different to anything we do in the gym or anything like that. It would be unrealistic to expect to win the Australian Open, but I may start to feel better if I can get through a match or two.”