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As Andy Murray continues to challenge at the Australian Open, the Scot has taken time to hail a star of the game who is having to watch the first Grand Slam of 2013 from the sidelines.

Rafael Nadal is still struggling with knee problems and having hoped he would be playing at the tournament in Melbourne, the Spaniard has endured another set-back.

There are fears the powerful player might not return to the peak of his powers where he was a few years ago.

Nonetheless Murray feels that when Nadal bust on to the scene, he changed the game forever, as he clearly brought a physical edge to his game.

Time had clearly been spent in the gym by Nadal and that athleticism is something the top players have been trying to mimic ever since.

Murray is no different and you can see in the early rounds of the Australian Open that the Scotsman is getting stronger and stronger. While Novak Djokovic – heavily tipped to retain his Australian Open title – has also brought greater power to the men’s game.

Being able to outmuscle your opponent, as well as staying agile and moving your way around the court, is as crucial as ever in modern men’s tennis.

Whilst competing in Melbourne, Murray – second favourite in the tennis betting – has taken time to praise the absent Nadal and feels the game might not be the same were it not for the King of Clay.

The British number one said: “Rafa was the first one to have that physique that looked like a true world-class athlete across any sport.

“Tennis players are always in good shape, but I think he looked like he could do any sport. The game has changed for sure physically. It’s much more demanding and I’ve adapted my preparation and training.”

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