Miles Maclagan has backed a red-hot Andy Murray to finally claim his maiden title in the California desert at Indian Wells.
Murray solidified his position at the top of the rankings with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 defeat of Fernando Verdasco to win the Dubai Tennis Championships for the first time on Saturday.
Murray, 29, claimed the trophy in the emirate after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in 2012, becoming the first British champion in the 25-year history of the tournament.
Now the Scot and his team face a 16-hour flight halfway around the world to Los Angeles to prepare for the start of the Indian Wells Masters in less than a week.
And Murray’s former coach Maclagan believes he will be favourite to claim the title in the desert for the first time having been below par in previous years.
“It’s a place where he doesn’t particularly love the conditions,” Maclagan told Sky Sports. “It’s a bit more lively which maybe favours the attacking players where they can gain the upper hand, but I wonder how much has been a psychological hangover from Australia? He’s been runner-up in five Melbourne finals where he’s had a lot of disappointment, so he just hasn’t been ready to come back.
“There is no physical reason I can think of. It’s hot, which he enjoys, the ball bounces and he’s in great shape. He can play tennis on any surface. There’s no reason why he can’t go there and do very well.
“He’s won a first title here in Dubai, so a first title in Indian Wells wouldn’t surprise in the slightest.”
Murray heads to Indian Wells, where he was runner-up in 2009, with some silverware for the first time and arguably the best preparation he’s ever had.
“The start of the year maybe hasn’t taken as much out of him as it has done in previous years because he didn’t get to the final and didn’t have to endure that massive disappointment,” said Maclagan.
“He will arrive reasonably fresh, well prepared, and the most confident he has ever been.”
Murray holds a healthy points lead over world No 2 Novak Djokovic, with the off-form Serb facing immense title defence pressure in both Indian Wells and Miami over the next four weeks.
“It’s disappointing so far for Novak, but it’s not a crisis just yet” Maclagan was quick to point out. “He has won a final [at the Qatar Open] this year and lost to an inspired Denis Istomin in Australia and then Nick Kyrgios in the Acapulco quarter-finals.
“Djokovic has built up huge momentum in Indian Wells over the years, but the bad news is that you can lose it pretty quickly – it takes some time to build it up again. If he wasn’t to do particularly well in Indian Wells and Miami, it’s up to everyone to decide what a crisis is, but it would be disappointing.”