MELBOURNE, Australia - Andy Murray prepared to fly out Saturday to return to his London home for the first time in nearly two months, defeated in the Australian Open semifinals but not deflated from the experience.
Murray has been the beaten finalist the past two years at Melbourne Park, failing to win a set from either Roger Federer in 2010 or Novak Djokovic in 2011.
On Friday, with his new coach of four weeks, Ivan Lendl, watching from the stands, Murray lost in five tough sets in nearly five hours to Djokovic, nearly pulling off a stunning comeback after being 5-2 down in the deciding set.
Instead of being upset with his loss a round earlier than the previous two years, and yet another Grand Slam without a title, Murray was upbeat.
"Disappointed obviously, but sometimes you come off the court and you've played really badly, you haven't quite been there mentally, and then you're really disappointed with yourself 'cause you've let yourself down," Murray said. "I don't feel like I've let myself down."
Murray has been reluctant to give an early prognosis on his relationship with Lendl, who rejected up to 10 offers in the 18 months before accepting the 24-year-old Scot as his student. The eight-time major champion agreed in December to start coaching Murray, although the two didn't hook up until early January in Brisbane, Australia, where Murray won a tuneup tournament for the season's first major.
But Djokovic didn't mind giving his view of the new relationship shortly after he walked off the court in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 7-5 win, putting him in Sunday's final against Rafael Nadal.
"He was more confident on the court," Djokovic said when asked if he noticed any different in Murray's game. "He was taking his chances. He was being more aggressive. I think he was playing better."
And he thinks that Lendl could even make Murray a better player.
"You can't significantly change in technique a stroke, especially if you're at this level," Djokovic said. "He's already a complete player. Even last year he was. It's a matter of having a little bit of luck combined with a choice of the right shots at the right moments, and that's it. He's so close to winning a Grand Slam."
Murray spoke after his loss about the immediate impact of having Lendl around him. The Czech player lost his first four Grand Slam finals, including the 1983 Australian Open, before winning his first, so Lendl can perhaps understand Murray's frustrations at having lost three of his major title chances so far, all without winning a set.
"I feel like, when you look up at someone like that in the stands it helps," Murray said. "Obviously for me, I want to try and repay the sort of faith that he's shown in me by coming to work with me. So I would have liked to have done obviously better here.
"Hopefully he was happy with the way I did and how I acted on the court. Hopefully at the French Open I'll do a little bit better."
In the meantime, there'll be some tough training sessions.
"I want to work on all parts of my game," he said. "I thought I played pretty well up at the net this tournament, which was good. Something I'll need to keep improving.
"I haven't sat down and spoken to Ivan about what I'm going to work on next two or three months in the buildup to Indian Wells and Miami yet, but I'm sure we'll have that conversation when the time is right."