DUNBLANE'S Andy Murray believes he can become world number one by the end of the year,after his battling five hour elimination to the current top seed, Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Murray, competing his fifth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, lost to the eventual champion in a grueling five set match, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1, 5-7, on Friday, with Djokovic visibly relieved afterwards to have progressed to the final despite the Scot's brave challenge.

Speaking after the defeat, Murray set out his aims for the rest of the year in no uncertain times, targeting to overtake Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer ahead of him in the ATP rankings.

He said: "I think it was important to lay down a marker to the other top three that I am improving and getting close to winning a Slam. You're always going to have people that doubt me and say 'he's not that good' or 'he's not as good as them.' "I'm aware that I still need to prove some things and win matches like the semi. It was close, but I need to make that last little jump and I'm much closer than I was at this stage last year.

"I want to get to number one. That's one of my goals this year and I'll try my best to do it." Djokovic, who endured almost five hours of high-level tennis to eliminate Murray also incredibly saw off Spaniard, Nadal after six hours of play in the final.

But Murray is unsure of how long his childhood friend can keep up his run of form.

"I don't know how much Novak (Djokovic) can keep on improving but he's played great tennis the whole of last year and made a big improvement. I think now I've started to improve and I think it's because of those guys that I'm playing as well as I am.

"In four or five days time we (his training team, including new coach, Ivan Lendl) will have a good chat about the match and the last few weeks and I'm sure I wont be as disappointed as I am just now.

"I've got to try as best as possible to take all the positives from it, see the things I need to work on. If I don't feel like I can improve that's when things are going to go badly and I think that I still can." Nadal, who also fell to Djokovic in a grueling encounter backed Murray's claims that he could genuinely challenge the top three in the Grand Slams.

He said: "He's playing fantastic and deserves to win a Slam. Here he lost another very good opportunity in my opinion, because winning two sets to one, you cannot start the fourth set like he did.

"But he can be number 1 at the end of the season. I don't have any doubt on that. The level is there."