World number two Roger Federer reacted with surprise on Tuesday when asked what he thought about the bookmakers making British number one Andy Murray a favourite for next week's Australian Open.
"He's the favourite?" Federer asked reporters at a media conference for the invitational Kooyong Classic on Tuesday. "Good for him. It won't help him a whole lot," the smiling Swiss added.
Murray, who lost the U.S. Open final to Federer last year, is the form player of the early season, having beaten Federer and world number one Rafael Nadal to install himself as one of the short-priced tips for Melbourne Park.
Federer, however, was quick to point out being the bookmakers' favourite did not necessarily translate into success.
"I've been in that position before and didn't make it," the 13-times grand slam winner added.
"It surprises me that the bookies would say that because he hasn't won a slam. Novak (Djokovic) won here last year. Rafa (Rafael Nadal) had an incredible season last year.
"I won the last slam of last season so it is surprising to hear."
Federer did, however, admit that Murray, who has a favourable 5-2 record against him after winning the Doha title last week and is now ranked fourth in the world, had improved dramatically in the past 12 months.
"I think he has shown for a year now he has been knocking on the door to make his move.
"I just think he got used to playing at a high level consistently. Before he was very up and down.
"He has played excellent. He's a good all round player, has good tactics and has become very confident.
"He has put himself into a winning position, but winning a grand slam is a different animal.
"Not many guys have been able to win grand slams in the last few years."