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Murray prepares to dig deep in search of first Grand Slam

ANDY MURRAY admits he must be prepared to slog it out in the early rounds if he is to fulfil his dream of landing the US Open.<br /><br />The world No2 finished runner-up to Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago and arrives at New York this week on top of his game having already won a hard court event this year, at Montreal.<br /><br />But Murray knows he faces a potentially difficult half of the draw as he goes in search of a first Grand Slam.<br /><br />The Scot opens his account against Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the first round in the early hours of tomorrow morning and could then face potential showdowns with big-serving Ivo Karlovic, sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro and world No3 Rafael Nadal on route to a second successive final.<br /><br />But the 22-year-old says he is not looking too far ahead of himself and is instead focusing his attentions on surviving the early stages.<br /><br />&ldquo;Once you get to the end of the slams, you need to raise your game, make sure you&rsquo;re playing great tennis,&rdquo; Murray said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Sometimes in the first few rounds that&rsquo;s not always the case, because there are obviously different conditions, sometimes you haven&rsquo;t played any matches on the court.<br /><br />&ldquo;So you sometimes have to go through some tough moments early in the tournament but it&rsquo;s about finding your way through them and then playing your way in, and by the end of the tournament it&rsquo;s going to be important to do everything well.&rdquo;<br /><br />Standing in Murray&rsquo;s way of a first Grand Slam once again is world No1 Federer, looking as imperious as ever.<br /><br />The Swiss star is seeking a record-breaking sixth successive US Open title and will be buoyed by his victory when the pair last met on the hard courts, in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters a fortnight ago.<br /><br />Last year&rsquo;s comprehensive 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 final defeat by Federer will also be difficult to erase from the memory, but Murray insists he can learn from the experience.<br /><br />&ldquo;He comes forward against anyone and I gave him too many opportunities to do that in the first set,&rdquo; he explained.<br /><br />&ldquo;Then once I started hitting the ball better in the second, he didn&rsquo;t have any chances really on my serve. &ldquo;I had a couple of set points to take it into a third. So it wasn&rsquo;t a whole lot different.&rdquo;