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Murray in the mire

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Jonathan Overend | 20:02 UK time, Thursday, 15 April 2010

"Can you write a piece on Andy Murray?" asked the editor, putting the straightforward bit first. "Explain why he is playing so badly."

Just an easy one then.

As attractive assignments go, that is right up there with being sent to Charlton v Colchester on Tuesday night - quite possibly the most atrocious football match I've ever been to.

There, at The Valley, I peered beyond the Jimmy Seed Stand hoping to catch a glimpse of the sparkling Mediterranean, but the view was obscured by a south London tower block.

Deciding to strike Monte Carlo from my schedule this year, in favour of a first visit to the Dubai tournament and a return to Rome later this month, was heartbreaking as you can imagine.

This is an incredible job and I never tire of going to these amazing locations but, going by the way Murray played in his opening match, I'm glad I wasn't there to see it. By all accounts, including his own, Murray was "rubbish".

For the first time in almost four years, and a time when his professional career was barely 12 months old, Murray has lost three matches in a row: Robin Soderling in Indian Wells, Mardy Fish in Miami and Philipp Kohlschreiber in Monte Carlo.

Andy Murray in Monte Carlo
Even the glamorous surroundings could not inspire Andy Murray in Monte Carlo

The Fish defeat was his first to a player ranked outside the top 100 since falling to Fabio Fognini in Canada in 2007, while the Kohlschreiber loss was his heaviest since crashing to Marcos Baghdatis, also in the summer of 2007 in Cincinnati. It should be noted that he was returning from a long-term wrist injury when he played those matches

Fast forward three years and Murray should be in his prime, in peak physical fitness, so these latest defeats must rank as two of the worst of his career.

Before we go any further, let us make sure we don't lose perspective. Three defeats, in the context of a 70-match season, is nothing too troubling. This is not a crisis.

Many players have recovered to win major titles after enduring rotten patches far more stodgy than this one and Murray will dig himself out of it, he has too much talent not to.

But the turnaround may not be immediate.

"My mind hasn't been right since Australia," he told us in Miami. "That's unacceptable".

After such self-analysis, I fully expected Murray to get things sorted in advance of the clay but the issues, whatever they may be, clearly persist.

More than a fortnight passed between the defeat in Florida and the horrors of the Principality. He didn't have a glimmer of victory in either match and the familiar fight, when faced with adversity, was not particularly evident.

His supporters don't want to be concerned, but they can't help it.

So what is up?

This is the great unknown. While we can suspect a few things, none of us really knows.

Did the defeat to Roger Federer in the final of the Australian Open hit much harder than anyone expected? Murray played well, really well, but still lost.

How is he going to win a major if Federer sticks around? It's a logical question he may have asked himself many times since that night in Melbourne.

He seems to be playing, and certainly talking, like a man with a lot on his mind.

Do recent reports of a reconcilliation with his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears, from whom he split in November last year, point towards various off-court complexities?

And then there is Davis Cup, a concern which really shouldn't alter the swing of his forehand but perhaps may be indirectly contributing to the current dip.

Even though he didn't play in the last match in Lithuania, the defeat and its consequences are thought to have consumed his thinking in recent weeks.

Stinging criticism from John Lloyd, who lost his job as captain in the wake of the Vilnius debacle, came the weekend before Miami. Murray was shocked when he read the quotes.

Since then he has tried to put forward his opinions about the state of British tennis in as politically correct a manner as possible.

Consulted as part of the LTA's review into Davis Cup, Murray didn't want to be seen to be voting directly for one man as captain or categorically saying he didn't want another.

Even though new captain Leon Smith is a friend and a former coach, Murray says he is no more likely to play in future ties than under Lloyd.

Do we believe this? One suggestion I read this week, sure to infuriate, was that Murray is now less likely to play because Smith understands him better and will cover his back.

The LTA, on the other hand, must have thought a matey-matey appointment would twist his arm, making participation - they hoped - more likely. That probably didn't go down too well either.

Murray feels like he is trying to salvage British tennis single-handedly and, while he doesn't always agree with stuff that goes on behind the scenes at the LTA, he needs to choose his words carefully. There are always questions.

I'm not saying that this intrigue and speculation is to blame for his poor form, but it all seeps back to him one way or another, it always has done. It could be having an indirect effect, so now is the time to shut everything out.

Only one thing matters now and that is rediscovering the natural gift he possesses for playing tennis and the wonderful joy he normally feels when hitting those winners.

Nothing has happened in the past few weeks to change my opinion that Murray will, one day, win a major championship.


  • Comment number 1.

    not bad w/ the lta and davis cup angle, but also it could be just hard to find the inspiration at the moment after the major let down...

  • Comment number 2.

    Murray played well, really well, but still lost.

    Totally disagree with this statement.I wa really disappointed in how Andy played in the final.Felt he didn t do himself justice at all.Oh, and by the way , I m sick of your GOAT articles, on and on and on and on they go .Can t you think of some thing new and maybe interesting , for a change.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think it is fairly obvious. It is a combination of factors. The loss in the Oz open. The fact that he has been criticised for the Davis decision. But more importantly, he had been hyped up to beyond his ability by the press and fans in the UK who turned on him as soon as he lost. He believed people liked and supported him, despite his personality and lack of sufficient talent to win a slam, and was very disappointed to find that this was not entirely the case.

  • Comment number 4.

    Good ol "DelPorto owns the moonballe "in disguie obviously has arrived , who never has any thing good to say about Andy

  • Comment number 5.

    I disagree that he played well in the oz final and lost. Had that been the case he would have taken some comfort from it. I think he felt particularly concerned and demoralised that he was able to trouble Federer in the final.
    Over the last month or so he's been very awful actually beginning from his withdrawal from Marseilles, he's looked less decisive is his shot making, can't trust his ground strokes so occasionally tries to miss things up with some serve and volley but not helping matters that much.
    But more importantly his attitude on court has been really poor( poorer even by his 'very high' standards).he doesn't show and willingness to fight for point like the other top players and doesn't make the opponent work for the right to beat a top player that he is supposed to be.
    Don't know what is happening in his private life but if he doesn't start applying himself, he is looking at sliding down the ranking.
    correct me if I'm wrong but I think Del Potro is supposed to overtake him in the ranking next week even though he has played since Australia by virtue of lost points from Murray.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yeah, its not a crisis, every player goes through blips and as you rightly say Jonathan- he is too good not to hit form again soon. Just needs a bit of luck and ground out victories going his way.

    I must confess to not watching any of those three defeats but to put them into persepctive- none of them were to mugs. Perhaps the Fish loss was the 'worst' in terms of who he was playing, but Mardy is pretty useful -especially on American surfaces.

    Also he did play well in the AO final- perhaps not VERY well though.

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes, it does look as if hell-hole has opened up and swallowed the Old Andy, but lets get a little perspective here, its not the end of his world and the obituaries can take a breather please.

    Most pros have dips and sometimes those dips can extend into slumps. Many times we have read of top players going through difficult times and with Murrays recent schedule changes, we can see a trend that is trying to allow him more time to recuperate between tournies.

    His fitness and training regime, his slam appearances in finals and semis are all taking their toll, so for me, we should not be ringing the alarm bells just yet.

    Wait till the FO and Wimbledon before we consign Andy to the burnt out heap, its too early for any kind of long term analysis. A few more months, then we can employ hindsight and try to fathom what went wrong.

    And yes, I still expect him to win Wimbledon this year, not because I am blindly fantasizing about such an occurance, but because I believe he has the game to do it this time around.

  • Comment number 8.

    Of course it's not a crisis yet. The key thing is to make sure a dip doesn't turn into a plunge...

  • Comment number 9.

    It's not a crisis, but I think there's one issue that you didn't really go into - it's related to the Federer loss, but it is not just about this one loss.

    Murray, who is naturally inclined to play a counterpunching style, is I think seriously grappling with whether he will ever win a Slam unless he adopts a more aggressive style. The Federer loss, following his loss to Cilic in the US Open, raised the same question, not about Murray's ability as such, but whether he has it in him to take control of a match when it most matters.

    That has to gnaw at his self-belief, which is fatal going in to any match, regardless of where your opponent is ranked. And I think Kohlschreiber deserves a little credit, he bossed Murray from start to finish, whether or not deliberately he preyed right on Murray's current doubts.

    Personally, I think Murray needs to commit to a style of playing, and then stick with it. He may need a new coach as well, someone who can start pushing some different buttons and get him feeling confident about what he's doing, ideally someone who has himself won a Slam.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm sorry but do you really think Federer is the only player standing in the way of Murray. No mention of Djkovic, Del Potro, and especially Nadal. Nadal may be suffering lately since his knee problems, but he is a six time slam winner already, and has won on evry surface, yet of course to you pathetic brits the only obstacle for Murray is Federer.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just to provide a realistic response to some of the comments (both on here and on the forums), which range from the woefully ignorant:

    1) "He has been playing beyond his capabilities over the last 9 months or so. Welcome back to earth Andy...enjoy the slide...."

    To the ridiculous :
    2) "Save himself for the slams?! Form?? He's never had the form, when are you all going to realise he just hasn't got it never has never will".

    To respond to these comments:
    1) He can't have been "playing beyond his capabilities"; if he can play at that level (especially for the better part of a season, as opposed to a match or two) then it is something of which he is by definition capable. How many other players have achieved such a level?

    2) Most of the top players out there (including Federer and former champions) have agreed that he has the natural talent, inventiveness and adaptability to be a (possibly multiple) slam winner. These are the kind of people who have the true knowledge and insight to be able to know a potential champion when they see one. It is true to say however, that potential may not necessarily translate into slam-winning success, but that was not the issue being addressed here.

    For myself, to state my own position, I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of Murray. When he's playing in the zone, and certainly if he can make the kind of changes to his game that I will discuss later, I do greatly enjoy watching him play! I wish him well, it's nice to have another British player competing at the top levels of the sport, and would love to see him win a GS (or several).
    However, I was rooting for Fed at the AO and consider Murray's nationality an irrelevance; I support players based on their skill, style and personality, not their country of origin (even if it's the same as my own).

    Murray definitely seems to be like a rudderless ship at the moment; I agree that it's doubtless down to a combination of emotional factors (the loss in the last slam, his relationship issues, Davis cup etc). However, I think the main issue right now has got to be the team who are coaching him. Consider this post from Holte67 from the forums:

    "Very few posters have questioned the coach's role in all of this. There is general agreement that Murray's serve and forehand are major issues. Now, I was out at Indian Wells and watched Andy practice a couple of times and all McLaghan seemed to do was wander around the back of the court trying to look authoratitive.

    Prior to the Soderling game he spent the last 15 mins just blocking back serves from Hutchins and then when he went onto the court, he played that exact same way and we all know what happened next! And then I read a comment afterwards that he hadn't watched Soderling much in the past year, so who is doing the preparation?!".

    It does seem like a major factor is going to be finding a coach (or team) who really challenge him, particularly to improve his serve and to work with him to develop match-by-match strategies for dealing with the particular game of whichever player he would be facing next.

    Recall the huge turnaround in his level of play and ranking once he got a team to help him resolve his fitness and conditioning issues; they (and he) did a great job there, but it does seem like a change is required now, in order to work on his serve, forehand and strategy (and to be more attacking when required), and of course his positivity, self-belief and will to win. What do you think?

  • Comment number 12.

    I have to be honest and say that I am just not an Andy Murray and find his attitude and behavior at times baffling, this is mainly due to factors away from the court though and recent blunders such as his failure to commit to playing Davis Cup just makes it impossible to support him.

    However as a tennis player myself I hold my hands up and marvel at his ability on court and his obvious talent. He has what many consider to be the best backhand in the game and when on song his serve is a potent weapon. These tools together with an all court game which I feel is only bettered by Roger Federer give him the potential to be one of the world’s top players, win tournaments & eventually grand slams.

    The problem for me is that Murray is too talented and unlike Federer doesn’t have the ability to put his game together on a consistent basis playing with a fluid style. One match he can be aggressive and the next very passive, that can work with certain types of opponent but when you get the balance wrong it can cost you matches and ultimately effect your confidence and leave you open to criticism.

    Andy is still very young and still learning so we mustn’t be too hard on him. The disappointment of losing the Australian Open final has clearly effected him mentally and its understandable given the way he'd played throughout the tournament. If anything what’s effected him most is the manor in which he was beaten as it was easier than his loss in the US Open final two years prior and undermines the progress he's made, if he'd lost in an epic 5 setter I’m sure he'd of taken the loss a bit better.

    We all appreciate that clay is not his best surface although with his movement on court and overall game he should still be able to compete and have some success’s. With this in mind I'd like to think that he'll be under less pressure than usual and will hopefully get back to enjoying his tennis and finding some form, as come Queens & Wimbledon the eyes of an expectant nation will be upon him and he'll need to find some magic from somewhere.

  • Comment number 13.

    As I said yesterday, I think Andy Murray needs to seriously rethink his game and tactics. I think it is time he had a fresh pair of eyes watching him and talking to him. I think you can get too comfortable working with one person. Sometimes it's best to move onto a new person who is able to advise and give a different perspective.

  • Comment number 14.

    Murray played well at the Australian Open but when it came to the final he crumbled. It was the second time that happened in a Grand Slam final and I think that has affected him.

    Guys like Djokovic, Nadal, Del Potro, Roddick, Federer all won a Grand Slam by the age Murray is now and I think he needs to try asserting himself in the games rather than being overawed. These failures in the last few weeks may take pressure off him and allow him to play good tennis like what Roddick has been doing now the expectation is lower on him.

    I think he will be able to turn it round but he needs to just regain his confidence.

  • Comment number 15.

    Of course, Federer is not the only player standing in Murray's way. However:

    On the two occasions that Murray has reached a slam final, it has been Federer that denied him the title.

    It is now six years since anyone won a slam without either being Federer or beating him.

    I would have thought that was plenty of justification for concentrating on Federer. Furthermore, the original topic is Murray's slump. which has come in the aftermath of his defeat to Federer in the AO final.

    But never mind, hunterlevi, why let the facts get in the way of unprovoked abuse?

  • Comment number 16.

    I was surprised when he withdrew from Marseilles having made a pretty definite promise that he would be there. Watching his matches after that you got the distinct impression that since the AO he has lost confidence and hence interest and doesn't really want to play. It is now an effort to go out on court.This disaffection has got steadily worse culminating in the dispirited and dispiriting display in MC.

    he needn't have got embroiled in the DC fiasco and he particularly should not have commented on who should be captain as he does not want to be involved anyway. It is sad in my view that Greg has not been chosen and I did not get the impression that Andy was very PC about him from reports in the press.

    He should definitely get a new and preferably just one good coach to gee him up. The present set-up is too cosy and they no longer know how to motivate and encourage him.

  • Comment number 17.


    I agree with a lot of what you say, except for the notion that there are any "major issues" with Murray's game.

    There's undoubtedly some tweaks he could do to make himself a better player - but I feel you need a top, experienced coach with deep technical know-how with the necessary eye for detail to make sure the tweaks are the right ones. Maybe MacLaglan and Co have taken Murray as far as they could, and we all know if Murray thinks that, he'll make the change.

    For me, the defeat that haunts him, more than the Federer loss, was the Cilic loss last year - particularly as Cilic threatened to do exactly the same to Del Potro in his next match, but was handily dealt with in 4 sets. That's what I think is the source of Murray's demons, that the other top guys can wrest control of a match in a way that he cannot. Federer resurrected those demons in Australia, I know folks say that Murray played well, but that's 99% of the problem; he did, yet he never looked likely to beat Federer, and he's now in a quandary over how to take his game to the next level.

  • Comment number 18.

    Reconciling with his girlfriend could do this all on its own. Once you start reconciling with an ex asking you to change your focus is done (as they all do!). He needs to get that sorted - either get married or get shot. Its that simple;)

    He can't have these uncertainties hanging around his head at the level he is at.

    Still if he becomes rubbish and nice, I'm sure there are many who will love him. That's how we seem to love our sportsmen.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good comments, I do feel though that most Top Players have found a way to combat AM's personal counter punching style, specifically with a BIG GUN approach.(see defeats by Gonzalez,Soderling et al) He knows that, and trying to add Juice to his game to take it to the next step. Which means he will have a period of "discomfort". Be patient with him, he's only young, and has already achieved more then anyone in decades! If you support him, why not support him through his up and his downs. He is such a good player he will learn from these defeats. I feel it is much more important he feels supported by his home country!(sic)

  • Comment number 20.

    I have no doubt that Murray's lack of form at the moment is a mental issue rather than his tennis. I simply do not understand how people can say Murray "just hasn't got it". You don't get to number 3 in the world, make grand slam finals and win masters events by total fluke. Anyone who thinks he doesn't have the talent to win grand slams is woefully mistaken.

    9)"Murray, who is naturally inclined to play a counterpunching style, is I think seriously grappling with whether he will ever win a Slam unless he adopts a more aggressive style. The Federer loss, following his loss to Cilic in the US Open, raised the same question, not about Murray's ability as such, but whether he has it in him to take control of a match when it most matters."

    I couldn't agree more with The_same_Eddie-George on this. In the Federer match at the AO, Cilic at the USO and I would add the Roddick match at Wimbledon, Murray played tentatively in all these matches, getting into long rallies, waiting for his opponents to make a mistake, seemingly unwilling to try to beat his opponent by using his power and hitting winners. Compare this to the way he played against Nadal at the AO QF, the contrast is huge. He was taking the ball really early and running Nadal off his feet. His aggressive play was too much for Nadal on that day and I couldn't understand why he didn't play with that same mentality in the final against Fed.

    Against the big opponents he needs to be more aggressive. By getting into long rallies he gives his opponents more opportunities to assert themselves in the point, and guys like Roger Federer rarely miss those opportunities

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    All the background issues - girlfriend, LTA, Davis Cup - may be affecting his form as may losses to Federer and how to crack a Grand Slam.

    The point is players experience these sort of issues in their careers and what marks out the best is how they deal with them.

    Murray doesn't seem to be doing so very well at the moment, but maybe he'll do so.

  • Comment number 23.


    Hi, and thanks for an informed and interesting response!
    Regarding the "major issues", I was drawing both on my own experience of watching him play over the years, and in comments from his peers and from other insightful commentators on the forums.

    Apparently his first serve percentage dipped as low as 32% in his loss to Kohlschreiber, and against Federer in the AO final, I seem to recall it was around 50%. Many people have cited this as a key weakness in his game that needs to be urgently addressed.

    Of course, his serve *can* be a potent weapon when he's on form, and this of course seems to come back to the issue that it is his pyschological game that is causing problems; when this is off, he invariably plays a considerable level below that which he is capable.

    I think your comment about Cilic makes a lot of sense. The problem is, you said "Maybe MacLaglan and Co have taken Murray as far as they could, and we all know if Murray thinks that, he'll make the change". This has been the case previously, and I do hope it will be so again. However, if in his own mind, Andy is tormenting himself and blaming himself for his dip in form/failure to gain a grand slam, or doubting his own ability/potential, then it may be a while yet before he looks beyond himself to find a new way to turn things around.

    I doubt any serious and informed tennis fan would suggest that Federer is the only obstacle; you're spot on about Nadal etc, although the fact that Del Potro and Djokovic have managed to make their respective grand slam break throughs should be an encouragement to Murray fans, since they of course faced the same kind of competition as him!
    However exasperating you may find some of the comments on here, please don't tar us all with the same brush; I and many others are British but not blind Murray worshippers (or haters!) and have much respect and admiration for the styles and achievements of his rivals.

    To end on a more positive note, (albeit slightly off topic) I've very aware of Nadal's superb achievements and am also looking forward to his performances this year!

  • Comment number 24.

    Nothing has happened in the past few weeks to change my opinion that Murray will, one day, win a major championship---

    what a stupid blog, stop dreaming- reality is Murry is miles away to win any major. Even Del Porto won his at 19.

  • Comment number 25.

    Andy if you are reading this stuff, then dinna listen to any of this mince. You lot get off his back, the boy is a tennis genius and maybe the English press don't like him, but he will be loved in Scotland whether he wins, loses or draws, and that's all that matters.

  • Comment number 26.

    Of course his current form will not suggest anything much, but based on his previous highs (number 3 in the world, hello?!) there is every reason to suggest that he might win a grand slam. He's already won Master's Series finals, and he's been runner up in two grand slam finals, losing only to a man commonly regarded as one of (if not THE) greatest (and a man he has beaten numerous times in other tournaments, albeit not in a best of 5 sets format).

    To have got through to the final of a grand slam twice in the last two years can hardly be regarded as being "miles away" from winning one.
    Aside from Nadal, how many others can claim such a track record, even including the other two top-5 players with a slam each?

  • Comment number 27.

    Well I hope Andy is reading this so that he can absorb all this wonderful knowledge from all you rocket scientists. Basically all your advice can be boiled down to 'why doesn't Andy just take the best bits of all his opponents games' or 'Andy can't win and never will, I know this because I have never achieved anything in tennis whatsoever'. Here is an amazing typical idea, why doesn't Andy just be exactly like Roger Federer? Then he can win easily? Do you lot think it is that easy? The boy has forgotten more about tennis than you lot know, combined. In fact, the boy knows more about how to play tennis, than anyone from the UK does in the last 50 years! Typical English, you just build them up and knock them down. At least the world cup will be on this summer, so you lot will be too busy ridiculously hyping up the English football team, just so you can knock them down later on.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think he's still reliving the net he hit when he had Fed (and the set) at his mercy in 3rd set at AO final.

    Who knows what may have happened had he won that one bearing in mind what happened to Fed against Del Potro at USO.

    I wouldn't worry about him though. He's a born winner and losing a few will put the fire back in his belly.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just felt the need to ask why the need to bring up a football match you had been assigned to in a 'tennis' article. I can understand how football in the lower leagues isn't as attractive as say your chelsea or arsenal in the top flight. But just to have a pop at a lower league match in your 'tennis' article just stinks of sloppy journalism and shows why you are just a 'blog' man. Maybe you should just stick to tennis (the subject of the matter) and who knows you might get a place in the studio with the experts doing the bigger, more attactive games in future.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Just felt the need to ask why the need to bring up a football match you had been assigned to in a 'tennis' article."

    Why you ask. Simple he hasn't seen Andy this week and was making the reason why clear and he wasn't expecting to write a blog. Can't please anyone.....

    Andy played well in that final. Just look at the stats for the people who say he didn't. Federer was on another planet. Anyway keep faith and it will click, it's a combination of things that have gone wrong, but not one thing is clear to the solution. Hopefully he has the solution sorted and that it was just a bad day at the office

  • Comment number 31.

    Thank heavens there's someone here who realises that Federer played lights out tennis in those first 2 sets of the AO final which didn't allow Andy to play his game. After watching their match at the WTF at the 02 last November, I knew that's exactly what Federer would do having lost the first set to Andy there. It was only in the 3rd set when Fed had a mental let down that Andy got into the match and could have taken the final into a 4th set, but he didn't.
    Having made no secret of his desire to win a Slam, there is a danger that Andy could just want something too much ... and apart from the loss to Federer, he's probably also well aware that he's the only player in the top 5 who has not won a Slam. But there is still time enough for him....

  • Comment number 32.

    My 1st comment!!! I think Andy Murray could of played better in the Australian Open Final against Federer. I noticed he looked a bit nervous when he entered the arena and waved. It was certainly closer in that final compared to the previous final at the US Open against Federer. Andy Murray should just carry on what he is doing and improve on a few things. He could of used Alex Ferguson psychology before the Australian Open Final when Federer said, “When was the last time Britain had a Male Grand Slam winner? 150,000 years? He should have said, “I think the pressure is all on Federer because I’ve got nothing to lose and everyone expects him to win.” This is just a blip. He has nothing to prove it’s the Slams that count now. Andy Murray knows he can beat these guys if he wanted. He has beaten the tops guys before Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Del Potro – Nadal and Del Potro in Slams. How is he going to win a major if Federer sticks around? That’s negative!!! He must keep on going in the Slams as you will have players having a bad day and the good players will cancel each other out – law of averages is a possibility of him winning a Slam. It’s just a matter of time when he wins his first Slam but I must admit my belief has been weakened a bit because of the way he is playing atm. I’ve been following Andy since he turned professional. Come on Andy!!!

    I don’t have time to read all these comments atm :-( But I hope some people read mine.

  • Comment number 33.

    I like the article but just wish that the BBC, and the media in general, would not be so obsessed with football. Football's a good game but when I'm reading a tennis article I'd prefer not to spend my time reading about some obscure football match.
    Murray will be fine, mini dips happen to the best of them

  • Comment number 34.

    We have to remember that Murray has an unreliable serve and a forehand that isn't strong; maybe the worst of the top ten. Therefore what has got him where he is are will to win, court craft, mobility, consistency and a top class backhand. Arguably he is no more than a runner like Simon and Ferrer and guys like this don't hang around the top ten for too long. I think we should recognise that he has probably overachieved given the weapons at his disposal.

    I suspect that post Australia he thinks (probably subconsciously)that as a double slam finalist, he can beat non top tenners in 3rd gear. With his lack of power I don't think he can, he needs to be fully focused and prepared to give his all each time he goes on court. Unless he can get a bit more on his forehand, he may struggle to stay in the Top 10.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ The Same Eddie George...well put.

    Whether there are off court issues, we can only guess. If his confidence is low on court, it must stem from a string of gland slam defeats, in all of which he was too meek. Coming up short against Federer is one thing, but too many half court balls allowed Verdasco, Roddick, Cilic also to step up and hit through him.

    I'm sure his play will normalise, but if the same issue prevents him winning slams, it will not be good enough in his own mind. That, i suspect, is what is eating him. He has spent the last 2 years getting super fit, becoming a bit more aggressive, relying on his undoubted tactical nous, and results have clearly followed, but now he needs to raise his game again...daunting huh. Tough at the top, who'd be a sportsman eh?

  • Comment number 36.

    Andy Murray deserves our wholehearted support.He has made great strides in his personal appearance and attitude.He has outshone his peers in the UK by his hard-working performances.His recent disappointments have caused temporary upset but he is a talented professional who has set himself far above other British players who appear to be unwilling to work.Criticism from the LTA is not justified.It serves only to create doubts in his mind and retard his further international progress.It may be an honour to represent your country-and Andy may think so too-but why should we expect him to support a sinking ship when he has an important international goal?Good luck in your career Andy.'Wish there were more like you and godspeed.

  • Comment number 37.

    Andy seems to have lost the aggressive streak which was an important part of his game once. Of course he must develop a reliable game, able to trust his serve and his ground strokes but he must show that he can and is willing to fight for points. His speed and retrieving in all parts of the court is excellent but there is an X factor he seems to have lost. He must be able to 'disconcert' opponents, to develop a 'fear factor'. He had this quality once. At first he may have to sacrifice a bit of reliability but tennis at the very top is mental as well as physical; of course he is aware of this but he must start to put it into practice and soon!

  • Comment number 38.

    The mumbling sourpuss Murray is the best advert for Scottish
    devolution I have ever seen.
    Needs to lighten up , just take a look at his bank balance!
    24 years old and need not ever do a days work for the rest
    of his life.
    Go somebody tell me how hard he trains,
    So do lots of sportsmen (and women)for no financial reward.
    He is good at tennis so go out and enjoy it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking article on a very difficult subject. The nature of the human brain is such that the apparently peripheral factors you mention, particularly the suggestion of relationship issues, may well be at the root of the problem.

    Andy has been through the highs and lows of tennis victories and defeats before and it hasn't dented his verve for the game. However, brains are primarily emotion-driven things that have an unfortunate capacity for misattributing those emotions. We've seen several instances of players getting married and going off the boil: whilst we might like to believe our sporting gods aren't troubled by such trifling issues as interpersonal relationships they are affected in the same ways that the rest of us are.

    I thing that the Davis Cup issue is a red herring. I also think people are moronically short-sighted for suggesting Murray should be playing in this competition. Why do I say that?

    1. Britain has no chance of winning the Davis cup (thanks to the LTA we have too few world-class players).
    2. If Andy wins a Grand Slam that will be a "British winner" of a far more important competition than the Davis Cup. The Davis Cup is a joke of an event that makes no sense in professional tennis: it needs entirely re-working. Outside of serious tennis fans, who knows who won last year: who cares?
    3. The tennis season is long and arduous. Adding in more travel and more tennis isn't a smart move, particularly tennis that doesn't provide ranking points.

    I hope Andy finds a route back to winning ways soon. He has a great track record of making good decisions and a strong team around him, so I'm optimistic.

  • Comment number 40.


    How many Charlton games have you been to? As a long standing Charlton fan, I can assure you that the Colchester game was one of the better ones in recent times.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think there is an opportunity for us to all reflect here on how we would perform in our everyday jobs if the masses felt they could publicly criticise your performances when they were not up to par. Reflect even deeper on how you would feel when people think they know you when in actual fact they don't know the real you in anyway. Perhaps this could affect how you would perform, perhaps not. This is a 22 year old young man we are talking about. I don't prescribe to this 'he has to take what goes along with being famous' idea. No professional sportsman ever sets out with the goal or intent of being famous. It is all about maxing out on their potential. Let's just take a moment and think about how you feel if in this situation, would you perform better or worse?

  • Comment number 42.

    "This is an incredible job and I never tire of going to these amazing locations..." is probably only element of truth in this article. It took an army of media (jonathan overend included)and die-hard british fans to ignite murray mania - and lets face it - britain is not short of them (henmania, gazzamania etc) - and all of them have a common theme - flattering to deceive. There is not one word about the improvement in quality of other players - now we are the bbc and we are only interested in britain all of a sudden! 'played very very well, and lost'...i think those of us who saw the match will agree murray did not have the courage to convert his opportunities and eventually folded tamely (and not very very well) in the end. He may be good guys, but why spend so much (public) money, time and effort in futile predictions. Its already gone on with murray for a good 4 years - another 4 and he will be 26, and then what? - i can bet you he is suddenly....oh wait....scottish!! such journalistic class from the bbc!! mr overend - will you make a public apology if murray doesnt win a grand slam in say the next 5 years ??

  • Comment number 43.

    It really is a mystery but also could be a sign of maturity and a re-evaluation of not just himself but his goals and ambition. Anyone who has read the Agassi autobiography can see plainly how a professional tennis life consumes you. I would not dismiss the personal side of his life as it is clear Murray likes a strong team around him. He will be back once he has sorted everything out in his head.

  • Comment number 44.

    There are many, many gifted players on the tennis tour, Andy Murray's talent does not give him the wide separation from his peers that Federer enjoys. Even Nadal has found it hard to reestablish his earlier dominance on the court.
    Murray needs to go back to work and stop expecting results to happen if he just shows up. He is nowhere near that good.

  • Comment number 45.

    Regarding my earlier comment on Scottish - to clarify - how long is it before the likes of overend start calling Murray Scottish. Murray's legendary fitness regime, of which everyone keeps going about - has only allowed him greater stamina, strength and longevity on court, his serves, forehands, backhands and general court play still remain only 'above average' - even Federer has openly stated of Murray's 'boring' approach to the game - and this is coming from the greatest player of all time. There has to be some element of truth in it - during Federer's rise to prominence, his style, accuracy and indeed audacity to play those incredible backhands and crunching forehands eludes Murray. As a package, Murray's brand of tennis is at best, well above average and yes he may have prevailed over Federer in many best of 3 setters only because Federer doesnt like to play the percentage game choosing instead not to curb his natural style of play. Wish Murray could take a leaf out of that approach!

  • Comment number 46.

    The Australian Open final effected him because he probably really felt prior to it that he could and would win it.

    He would have felt like that very final was HIS final, no better time to win than when he could show the world that playing against Federer, on a big but equal stage, he was the better player.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing for whatever reason, turned into a big non-event, and he's still understandably deflated.

    He'll pick himself up eventually, when he realises he can still beat the best players, and there were reasons for losing to Federer that were not outside his control.

    Nout to panic about, barely worth an article.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think Jonathan's article is helpful, highlighting that sport at the highest level is hugely affected by one's mental state. In an individual sport such as tennis, this becomes more acute. (It also has an impact in a team sport - witness John Terry's loss of form, and the impact on Chelsea - but a team can recover and cover over when one individual within it is struggling. With an individual sport such as tennis, there is nowhere to hide.)

    Jonathan points to three important things which are known to be affecting Andy Murray recently:
    - the nature of his loss in the Australian Open, which was shattering because he was so totally outplayed by Federer; it was disheartening to watch on Murray's behalf - very hard to imagine what it must be like to be the player in that position;
    - his place (or not) within the Davis Cup set up; I think this IS important because it affects Murray's sense of belonging and acceptance by the British public, and I think that inevitably has an affect on a player, whether they like it or not; and
    - his close personal relationships: I was unaware that Murray had broken up with his girlfriend, but it's a no-brainer that how things are going in our close personal relationships inevitably affect our performance elsewhere in life, and that when we're settled in our personal relationships, that can have a positive knock on in our confidence and performance. Murray is human, the same has to be true of him also.

    What we don't know is whether there are other factors that are playing in as well - my guess is that there may be.

    The big question I think is how long it will take Murray to get into a better mental space. Only time will tell. I hope for his sake, and the sake of British tennis followers that it's soon. But it could be next year before he fully recovers and comes back to challenge with Federer, Nadal, and the increasingly stronger big boys in the Top Ten of men's tennis.

  • Comment number 48.

    I cannot pretend to understand why Andy Murray has gone through this dip in form since the Australian Open but I do want to offer a thought..Andy is not arrogant enough! I say this because of his decision at the start of that final. When Roger opted for an end after winning the toss, Andy seemed caught off-guard and then tried to call his bluff by electing to receive. I imagine that if Andy Roddick had that opportunity he would think "thanks very much..I'll serve"! When people talk about great receivers like Agassi, one top pro's response was to the effect that he'd rather have the ball in his hand, to dictate play. Perhaps Andy showed at that moment that he did not believe in himself 100% going into the final and that doubt is still resonating within him?

    Anyway, on the eve of his first match in Rome, I think that Andy is the greatest thing since sliced bread - and I hope he does to.


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