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Murray can still beat the best

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Jonathan Overend | 19:36 UK time, Sunday, 4 July 2010

After playing so well at the Australian Open, only losing to one of the all-time greats Roger Federer, Andy Murray understandably granted himself a period of reflection and recuperation.

It was absolutely necessary, the body and mind wrung dry by winter workouts, meticulous preparation and a close-to-perfect tournament, but coming so early in the season, the break set him back and at tournaments in Dubai and North America, he underperformed.

Then came the clay season, with its predictable collection of OK performances but relatively early defeats, and Murray was a long way away from his peak.

Over dinner near his home, seven days before the start of Wimbledon, he maintained that his best tennis wasn't far away and he was right.

It took a brilliant performance from another all-time great, Rafael Nadal, to end an impressive run and now, after a mentally draining fortnight, we expect the Murray Corporation to shut down for a couple of weeks. It's absolutely essential.

But this is where things are different from post-Melbourne.

Then, in February, it was back into action almost immediately. Now, with six weeks until the start of the next big mandatory tournament in Toronto, it's almost like Andy Murray's off-season. Time away from the court should help him recharge for the big push for American hard-court success.

Andy Murray
Murray has not won a title this year. Photo: Getty

Even if he takes a couple of weeks off completely - as he did after his Australian exertions - he'll still have plenty of court time to get the feel back ahead of Canada.

He goes into the US Open series without a title, the first time that's happened since his first year as a pro in 2005, yet I'd be surprised if that barren spell lasts. I'm convinced he will lift the trophy at either Toronto, Cincinatti or - dare I say it - the next major in New York.

Make no mistake, he is ready.

Against Nadal, in that brilliant match last Friday, he came so close - 98 points to Nadal against 91 for Murray means nothing in terms of the result but it illustrates how tight the contest was.

A minor swing the other way and it could have been straight sets Murray. In fact, it would have been straight sets Murray against most other players in the world.

He was marginally the better player in the first set, he had a set point in that dramatic second set tie-break and was 4-2 ahead in the third, all of which, admittedly, counts for nothing when the opponent is better on the biggest points.

Pundits on Saturday were dissecting the match and the tactics and, in some cases, criticising Murray for not being aggressive enough.

And yet here he is within one or two points of beating the world number one and making a Grand Slam final for which he would have started favourite.

The incomparable Simon Barnes, writing in The Times before the match, talked eloquently about the apparent obligation in British sport to celebrate a joyous victory or bemoan a crushing defeat. One or the other.

But this, genuinely, should be neither.

Over the course of his five-year career we have learned considerably more from his defeats than his victories about Andy Murray's promise and potential .

No, he didn't produce his very best anti-Nadal performance, but he wasn't far off. No, he didn't make the final, as we all hoped, but he wasn't far off.

And his reaction to a question after the match clinched the deal.

After losing to Federer twice in major finals and inspired performances from Nadal and Roddick in Wimbledon semis, he was asked whether he felt he deserved a bit of a break at the Grand Slams?

"I don't think like that at all," he told me. "When you go into tournaments you want to play against the best players, it's more fun playing against them and makes the achievement all the greater if you can do it."

What a great answer. This man is a born competitor and he deserves our respect unconditionally. He wants to play the best, he wants to beat the best, and he is close to doing it in the final stages of the big ones. It will happen.

The dream is not dead, the realisation has simply been delayed, briefly.


  • Comment number 1.

    Murray is clearly well respected by his peers, he now has the strength and stamina to challenge - if not the nerve.

    The new breed of strong tall players have their merits but the sheer pace of their shots kills the subtelties and nuances of the beautiful game. The flair players are unable to play their game against them and the spectacle is diminished as a result.

    The final disappointed on many fronts, maybe it just was not the final we wanted and the windy conditions did not help.

    Nadal deserved his win and was the best player over the tournament.

  • Comment number 2.

    Murray's got a lot of talent but in my opinion he needs to switch up his tactics if he wants to win majors. And even if he wants to retain his ranking. He still has the junior mindset that if he keeps putting the ball back in play and mixes up spins his opponent will miss. It's not that he doesn't have the ability to play more aggressive but most of the time his gameplan is just to keep pushing the ball back and waiting for errors. So when he goes up against big hitters, it's not that their power trumps flair, it's that Murray literally just sets them up and hopes they miss. When he runs into a big hitter who's on their game he often loses. It's no surprise to people who follow the sport that he can be beaten by guys like Cilic, Del Porto (when healthy), Berdych, Gonzo, Soderling, and I'd say Versasco and even Gulbis. Against those guys the correct gameplan isn't to let them attack but that's what Murray does. And by the time you get late in major tournaments the players you're up against aren't going to just miss. The reason why Del Potro won in his first major final and Murray lost is because Del Potro went out and took control of play. He didn't just setup Federer and hope he's miss.

    Now, I've seen Murray play a much more aggressive style in some matches and he can definitely do it very effectively. So what I don't get is why he'll still play a defensive game against big hitters. If he gets a good draw and doesn't run into one of those guys who can be real trouble for him, he can do very well. But right now he is very susceptible to losing much earlier than his talent suggests. And I believe it's entirely due to strategies. It's often good to mix up pace but now that players expect he'll just roll the ball in up the middle occasionally they'll wait for it, flatten the stroke out, and push him back off the court when he plays it. Nadal made Berdych look easy today but he kept pushing him back off the court so he couldn't attack. If Murray was in the final Berdych may have looked like a completely different player if he was allowed to get comfortable in points.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am amazed that a tennis specialist like Jonathan Overend is so unsophisticated as to suggest that the fact that there were only seven points between Nadal and Murray in their semi-final, pointed to an incredibly tight contest. Tennis doesn't work that way. It's not the easy service games, won to love, that decide these matches but the huge points at the end of sets and in tie-breakers that are the key to contests and when it it comes to winning these, Nadal is a past-master. It is all very well Jonathan saying that Murray can still beat the best but the fact is that he has an inherent problem in his game in that his forehand is less reliable than his backhand. Occasionally in long rallies he can change things up and hit superb winners off his forehand wing. But against Nadal, time and again, his forehand broke down and he dumped relatively straightforward shots in the net. You can disguise a dodgy backhand by running round it but you can't run around your forehand and one just had the feeling in their semi-final that if Nadal kept going to that side that the error would come and it invariably did. Murray is a very talented player and will be able to "work out" a lot of his opponents as he did against Tsonga but if he is going to get the better of a fit,in form Nadal, his forehand has to hold up a lot better better than it did on Friday.

  • Comment number 4.


    In essence he who drives the game wins - Murray cannot play percentages he has to start taking the initiative.

  • Comment number 5.

    Murray is always told to be more aggressive.
    When he is more aggressive he loses points, I think he'd be better playing tennis to his strengths not someone else's strengths.

    If Murray's tactics are so far wrong how come he's 4 in the world.

    He should be aggressive when he's absolutely sure the ball is going to go in. Leave more margin for error.

    Get the serve perfected, and his defensive strategy will do the rest.

  • Comment number 6.

    Stop looking for excuses. Nadal is simply, and will always be, a better player. Murray is good but not great.

  • Comment number 7.

    The caption "Murray had not dropped a set before running into Nadal in the semi-finals." is wrong: he dropped the first set against Tsonga.

    Otherwise, it was a pretty good tournament for Murray, particularly after a relatively poor spell of tennis since Australia.

    It's disappointing that Murray lost to Nadal (who is a brilliant player), but he did play well for much of the match, and I'm sure he'll learn from it.

  • Comment number 8.

    Murray was a matter of points away from beating Nadal. The key factor in my opinion was that he was too passive on the big points in this match.

    Nadal won't give you these points... you have take them.

    If he had played like he did when his serve was threatened by Nadal... then he would have broken Nadal's serve more often.

  • Comment number 9.

    I cant really see where those who said Murray played well are coming from. Murray was dropping the ball too short - on the service line more often than not. Nadal simply had too much time to wind up, and with that length could find the angles he wanted. The only time Murray looked like winning the tie was when the hit deep and Nadal was unable to play his own game. I dont mean to be overly simplistic, but I've lost count of the number of times hes lost a match because he isnt hitting deep enough. He doesnt need to be more aggressive, he needs to stop dollying up the ball for the other bloke to marmalise.

  • Comment number 10.

    Of course Murray can win Wimbledon. All he needs is the following...

    1. Nadals legs to pack up for good.
    2. Federer to retire.

    Until these two are out of his way he will never win. After that he needs luck to be on his side and maybe he can sneak a win playing his dull percentage game.

    In truth he is just a Tim Henman who swears.

  • Comment number 11.

    #6 - Agree with what you're saying to an extent. Nadal is, as you say, simply the better player. Don't think anyone is looking for excuses though.

    There's certainly no shame for Murray here, just as there was no shame in losing to an inspired Fed in Australia/US. Ultimately, if someone is better than you then you just have to accept it and knuckle down.

    I don't think that Murray will ever be as good as Fed was and Nadal is. He has demonstrated that he can beat Nadal and Federer (even when Fed was closer to the top of his game than he is now). He now has to demonstrate that he can do it in the biggest games. We know that he has the tools to do it, but the mark of the great players is that they use those tools at the right time. As people above have suggested, the worrying thing for Murray is that Nadal was able to bring out his 'A' game in the points that mattered.

    The shot that sums up Murray's tournament for me was his final forehand winner against Tsonga. A stunning combination of balance, power and skill. But it was a shot played when he knew he had the match won - the pressure was off.

    Good players can show you their real talent throughout a tournament. Great players show you their talent in the biggest points.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ #10 Jamtay1. You said, "In truth he is just a Tim Henman who swears." Well, Tim Henman's best world ranking was 4, Murray's best so far is 2. Tim Henman won only 1 Masters' Series tournament in his long career, Murray has already won 4. Tim Henman never reached a Grand Slam final, Murray has already reached 2.

    Your other criticism of him is that he isn't as good as the 2 greatest players of all time. Well, that could be said of all but 2 players in the world, yet Murray has a creditable record against both, and he's beaten Nadal twice over 5 sets. Most tennis fans know that.

    It is depressing when people feel the need to comment on sports that they watch for 2 weeks per year and yet consider themselves to be experts.

  • Comment number 13.

    6. At 09:03am on 05 Jul 2010, Mike W wrote:
    Stop looking for excuses. Nadal is simply, and will always be, a better player. Murray is good but not great.


    If it's that simple, how come in Australia Murray outplayed Nadal and beat him in the quarter finals? How come he also beat him convincingly in the US open semi final a couple of years ago?

    The problem with people in this country is they only watch Wimbledon and think that what happens in this tournament is the only barometer in terms of who is good and who is great.

    Murray is a top player, and a match for anyone on a hard court. He's not far behind on a grass court either. He is without question good enough to win a slam, and will win multiple slams in my opinion.

    He has a forehand that is a bit conservative (which i understand he is working hard on to make it a more effective weapon) but apart from that he is a complete player.

  • Comment number 14.

    I completely agree with Antber (post 3). Murray's forehand is the problem. I actually thought he played a lot better this year than last Wimbledon. He was more aggressive and dictated play a lot more than he was doing last season. He can do that on his serve and when he gets the ball on his backhand, but when it comes to the forehand he is back to just keeping the ball in play and hoping. Nadal kept feeding that shot knowing that he would not come under any pressure, and after 4 or 5 shots Murray would probably miss. Which he did. I was particularly puzzled by the fact that Murray actually ran round his backhand on a few occasions. No idea what he was thinking there. Not that the commentators noticed. They did mention Murray missing forehands down the line, but the fact that even the cross court shots were limp and lifeless didn't register. It was the usual Nadal love-in. Yes, he's a great player, but this was not a great performance. Murray didn't push him at all. I'm still optimistic though. Murray has shown plenty of appetite for continual improvement (very un-British - we much prefer denial as provided by Mr Overend or defeatism as supplied by several posts above). Andy has developed his serve and after his totally passive horror show last year he has worked at attacking off his backhand and dictating play. If he now turns his attention to his forehand with similar results there is still time for him to genuinely push Rafa in the next couple of years.

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 Tim

    I watch Tennis all through the year. We all know the little ditty about Assume don't we?

    I would argue that the likes of Becker, Sampras, Agassi, Laver, Borg and Mc Enroe (to name but a few) could all argue against your claim that Nadal and Federer are the greatest ever? Perhaps you have not heard of these legends? But that would be a silly assumption wouldn't it? ;o)

    Yes I do agree that Murray’s career does compare favorably with Henman’s, but they both share one crucial characteristic. When they are up against the best they will falter. In part due to their lack of composure and nerves, but mainly due to the fact that they are just not good enough.

  • Comment number 16.

    What a Murray love fest this blog is. It's all what if. What if Nadal and Federer hadn't been born or didn't play tennis for a living? Murray is a good player but he seems to choke on the big occasion. He will make a very good living out of tennis and the British media will forever build him up as they did with Henman.

  • Comment number 17.


    Unfortunately you are writing nonsense. Other than Nadal, please name me a player who was as effective on Clay and the now slow playing Wimbledon service. So that makes it very difficult for anyone to win the French or Wimbledon.

    Add a certain Mr Federer and that puts the two hard court slams almost out of reach

    "When they are up against the best they will falter"

    Is that why Murray has beaten Nadal in the last two Hard Court slams they have played??

    Is that why Murray is one of only two players to have beaten Nadal at a Hard Court slam for more than two years??

    Sorry, my friend, 'Tim' is correct. You do seem to be a two week fan or someone who gets their facts from third party means, rather than been an all year Tennis watcher

    After all anyone who thinks that Becker is in the same League as Sampras, never mind Federer is obviously just judging the German's SW19 performances. If Becker was such a great, then one would assume that he would have managed to get near to winning the French in an era when no-one dominated?

    Finally, Murray's best and maybe only chances of winning Slams are at the two Hard court ones. Strangely enough that's where he's reached each of the final's!!

    Come back when you've got over your tendency for lazy soundbites

  • Comment number 18.

    Murray has beaten Nadal in a grand slam semi final before, so all these "not as good as nadal, choker" comments really make no sense.

    He's not the first player in history to find it hard to win a grand slam, and if he wasn't British, he'd probably get much fairer criticism from those desperate to see him falter.

  • Comment number 19.

    @17 Banbrotam

    Wow so many things we beg to differ on!

    Yes I am well aware that Murray has defeated Nadal on the hard courts. I personally put that down to fatigue, nagging injuries on Nadals part.

    Fair point regarding Becker but then again Sampras was never impressive on clay either. Does not been able to master one surface or only been able to master one surface make you a great or not? Probably an argument for a different debate!

    I would say that the biggest point in my favor is looking at the two finals Murray has reached, both one sided straight sets defeats (just like Fridays defeat to Nadal). I repeat he lacks the temperament and ability to win the big matches against the best players. Nothing I have seen or that you have mentioned so far convinces me otherwise.

    P.S This whole you are a two week fan etc is at best ill informed and at worse just pure snobbery. It does you no credit and distracts away from your point of view.

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes I am well aware that Murray has defeated Nadal on the hard courts. I personally put that down to fatigue, nagging injuries on Nadals part.


    You would, but only because it seems you're not very bright when it comes to tennis

  • Comment number 21.

    @17 Banbrotam

    I'm with Jamtay1 in most respects. You making a big assumption in stating federer and nadal the greatest 2 players ever. I do agree with you about becker (even though i was a big fan) but no way would I rate federer or nadal above Borg. If Borg hadn't retired he would have set the record number of slams I doubt even federer would have matched. As for achieving what nadal has donw regards french and wimbledon Borg bettered this by far. copied this from wikipedia for you to read

    "he won a record five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles (an all-time record he holds with Roger Federer) and four consecutive French Open singles titles (an all-time record he holds with Rafael Nadal), and is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time"

    "During his relatively brief pro career, Borg won 41 percent of the Grand Slam singles tournaments he entered (11 of 27) and 89.8 percent of the Grand Slam singles matches he played. Both are open era male records for an entire career. In addition, Borg's six French Open singles titles are an all-time record.[6][7] He and Rafael Nadal are the only players in the open era to win both Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year more than once, and Borg, unlike Nadal, won both for three consecutive years."

    Tell me where Nadal or Federer has bettered this. I'm not knocking wither as they are without doubt 2 OF the greatest but NOT the 2 greatest.

    Regards Murray he's a brilliant player but unfortunately for him there are at least 2 players around at the moment who are better than him therefore he needs them to underachieve (or retire) or he needs to raise his game to another level if he wants to win a slam

  • Comment number 22.

    As others have written, Murray is currently world ranked #4 in a very competetive sport, has won 4 Masters series titles (events which have all the top players entered) and reached two GS event finals, losing both to probably the best player of all time in Federer on his strongest surface. Hardly evidence of him being a useless choker, just that he's not quite THE best player in the world at present.

    With regard to the semi final, Andy was a couple of points away from having a 2 sets to 1 lead rather than losing in straight - it was a tough match, but Nadal just played better at the crunch end of each set (aided by a net cord in the second set tie break). The differences between Murray and Nadal was Andy got cheap points on serve, but when the points went into a longer rally Rafa's forehand became the key shot.

    The good thing for Andy is that he is competetive against anyone yet still has room for improvement - his first serve is erratic and his second serve still tentative on the big points, and his down the line or off forehand tends to be a bit cautious, hooked in from the line and without the overwhelming pace that Nadal or Federer put onto this shot.

    We aren't talking about revolutionary changes to his game, just some tweaks to strengthen up the relative weaknesses that do exist sufficiently to change the results of about 5 points in a match against the best players.

  • Comment number 23.

    @20 Kapnag

    Nadal has a long history of nagging injuries. It has been extensively documented. He missed defending his tital at Wimbledon last year due to injuries. How does that make me not very bright when it comes to Tennis?

  • Comment number 24.

    So is Nadal the only player to suffer from fatigue and nagging injuries? How much more tennis does he play than Murray? I wonder what Nadal himself had to say about these defeats to Murray - he certainly seems to have a lot more respect for Murray than the "anyone but murray" bores on here

    Murray beat him this year in Australia, and beat him in the US Open semi final. "Yeah but Nadal was tired". Very poor and lazy reasoning

  • Comment number 25.

    Great blog. Nice to see somebody speaking sense

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes I am well aware that Murray has defeated Nadal on the hard courts. I personally put that down to fatigue, nagging injuries on Nadals part.


    So you say he isn't good enough, and yet when he has beaten Nadal in the latter stages of a slam you state that it is just lucky because Nadal had fitness issues?

    So basically, he can't win with you can he. You've already made your mind up.

    For those people with a more impartial view, Murray has got to a total of 6 slam quarter finals, 4 slam semi finals and 2 slam finals. Has beaten Nadal twice in latter stages of slams and has an overall winning record over Federer.

    I look forward to him winning a slam (which I'm certain he will) and seeing how suddenly the fickle change their tune from unfair criticism to sycophantic worship.

  • Comment number 27.


    Nadal is hardly likely to come out and say that he has the measure of Murray and that he doesn't think Murray is up to much is he? Again it is similar to the Sampras vs Henman thing. Polite and courteous to the British challenger, then beat them comfortably.

    Still perhaps your reasoning will be less 'poor and lazy' when and IF (a very big If) Murray wins a Slam.

  • Comment number 28.

    Would you guys agree that Murray hasnt got big enough groundstrokes ?
    He cant blow people off the court like a Berdych or Soderling.

    Sill, he did push Nadal close, that set point at 6-5 in the tie-break...

  • Comment number 29.

    Like many, very disappointed, although not surprised, that Murray fell at the (semi) final hurdle. But surely this isn't worthy of great discussion. He did well - about as well as expected. he was beaten by a better player but it was about his ability to close out key points.

    Surely the "news" for discussion is to consider the junior cohort and reflect on whether Roger Draper's LTA are beginning to deliver. 4 UK finalists in Boys doubles, 1 semi finalist in singles and we already know about our strong female juniors. Some players here punching above their weight - unusual for UK sports people and surely worth some comment Jonathan?

  • Comment number 30.

    Murray has the game and has the attitude but I still think he doesn't quite believe he is at nadal's and federer's level (and yes i know he's beaten both enough times) but doesn't expect to beat them when it comes to the slams. I still think he believes hes at the stage where its good enough to lose to them as long as he plays well, something that is constantly pushed down his and our throats as in this blog. I have no doubt he is the 3rd best player in the world right now, federer is definitely on his way down (though not out) so is beatable and nadal does have injury worries and also is beatable on hard court so there is every chance if things fall into place Murray will win a slam and maybe that will give him that extra bit of confidence being a true champion must give you but as in all sports he needs to do it sooner rather than later because as federer falls away no doubt some other young players are going to come through. Murray is still spoken about as young and upcoming and that his game can improve but he isn't now he needs to start winning slams before he suddenly finds himself in his late 20's and past it

  • Comment number 31.

    At the moment, Nadal at his best is better than Murray at his best. We saw that in the SF. I think the crux of it was Nadal's ability to dictate play from the back of the court - his power and accuracy was too much for Murray. Whenever a rally lasted more than a few shots, you got the feeling Nadal would come out on top. As such I don't think it's so much a lack of aggression on Andy's part (too much of that and the unforced errors will spiral out of control) as a lack of power. It's the same when Soderling has one of those matches when everything goes in - he's almost unstoppable.

    That's not to say Murray can't improve his game, nor indeed that Nadal will be able to maintain such a stellar standard forever. But as things stand, if Nadal continues to reach those heights, Murray will find it tough to beat him. The law of averages (fitness, form, etc) states that Murray might well win a GS though - both Djokovic and Del Potro have done so without (arguably) being the best player in the world at the time.

  • Comment number 32.

    Adding to all your comments so far ,Murray's best surface seems to be hard court which also happens to be Nadal's weakest (at the moment) with Roddick,Federer dipping in form Murray has a good chance in the US open if he doesn't wear himself out like last year.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nadal is hardly likely to come out and say that he has the measure of Murray and that he doesn't think Murray is up to much is he?


    No he isn't, what with Murray having beaten him in two grand slams

  • Comment number 34.

    @33 We agree at last! lol

    But despite the odd wins, I don't think Nadal or Federer will view him as a serious threat unless he can prove he has what it takes to win a Slam. I very much doubt that he does.

  • Comment number 35.

    erm...ok...I'll try and explain that again - he has beaten nadal twice in grand slams, if Nadal had the measure of him, he would still be trying to beat Nadal in a grand slam. As he has beaten him, not once, but twice, this suggests that Murray is more than a threat

  • Comment number 36.

    I hope Murray is not beating himself up over this Wimbledon loss, like he did after the Australian Open.

    I thought he played a pretty good match against Nadal, and not in the gallant loser sense; as often happens on grass, he lost four or five crucial points, and that was that. Contrast Berdych, who had just about everything he does well nullified by Nadal, Murray is capable of causing Nadal more problems because he has so much variety in his game.

    Listening to the interviews, there's no-one on tour who doesn't think Murray has the ability to win a Slam. He will remain a counterpuncher first, but he has definitely dealt with the issue of being too passive which explained several of his bigger losses in 2009. That said, how to beat Nadal right now is a pretty big conundrum, his play is a whole lot more aggressive too these days, and so perfectly well suited to the US Open.

  • Comment number 37.

    Adding my tuppence to the debate, for what it's worth:

    I was disappointed with Murray's tentative display against Nadal. As someone else wrote above, when the pressure was off against Tsonga, Nieminen and others in the tournament, his tennis was simply breath-taking. This was also shown in the first game of the third set vs Rafa, when he broke the world's best player to love! This game encapsulated Murray's ability and performances to a tee.

    Without pressure and expectation, he plays (I would argue!) as well as Nadal and Federer, if not better! He needs to let go a bit and play on instinct. I think that on Friday he succumbed to the enormity of the occasion.

    He was never gonna win because he played Rafa's baseline game. The shocking thing about Murray's performance was the lack of the usual dropshots, varying angles and any volleying at the net. I know that Nadal's power and movement makes this a risky strategy usually but having seen that he had struggled with injury niggles in previous rounds, I would have liked to have seen Murray ruthlessly expose any weaknesses.

    Instead, Nadal was allowed to dictate play from the baseline, assume a comfortable rhythm and was rarely troubled sufficiently. I never thought I would say this of Murray but he paid for his lack of imagination and variety.

    In answer to a few that have compared him to Henman....HA! That's the biggest load of rubbish I've heard for ages. Did any of you watch the defensive, predictable and limp performances of Henman? Murray is exciting, can hit clean winners and WILL win a slam at some point.

    I think that one slam will release the pressure on his game and that it will lead to many, many more. He's one tournament away from joining players like Nadal and Federer, particularly with regards to their winning mentalities. The first is always the hardest but there is no doubting his ability and potential...

    Murray vs Nadal final at the this space!

  • Comment number 38.

    Kapnag - You are quite right, but you are wasting your time trying to explain it.

    There are those that watch tennis all year round, and those that don't. Those that do, and have seen Murray beat Nadal in the latter stages of 2 slams, know that he has the game to win slams.

    Those that just watch Wimbledon will see that he has lost to Nadal twice and come to the conclusion that he just isn't quite good enough.

    I'm quite happy for these people to think what they like.

  • Comment number 39.

    This article really misses the point. The fact is that Nadal wins the big points when it matters and it is this that is one of the key factors that sets himself and Federer apart from the rest. To say Murray was so close is incorrect. He never had a chance and didn't have the game to win those crucial points. Bear in mind Murray has only beaten Nadal twice and on one of these occasions Nadal had to retire with a knee injury. Murray at his best vs Nadal at his best = no contest.

    Murray is clearly a good player, probably the best of the rest. It's just bad luck for him that he plays in the same era as two of the greatest players tennis will ever see..

  • Comment number 40.

    There are those of us who see that good player that he is, Murray will never win a Slam (because of his lack of composure, temperament and most importantly because he is not good enough, and then there are those of us who delude ourselves........

  • Comment number 41.

    Both Roger and Rafael have ventured opinions that Andy will become a Slam winner and I, for one, will not take their opinions lightly! I will agree with others on here in that (i) I worry that Andy's service will not be up to scratch and (ii) he needs to improve that forehand. He is capable of agressive tennis and in this year's SW19 semi came up short on the big points as opposed to the opponent having his measure through the match, as I have suspected in the US and Aus finals. He is still progressing and I excpect to see further improvement still. Bring on the hard courts!

  • Comment number 42.

    Once again I read another media article which shows patriotic bias above the facts, we've seen it with the football and now with Mr Murray. Jonathan the facts are that if Federer and Murray play their A game then whatever Murray does is irrelevant he can't beat them. In Australia it was Federer 3-0, at Wimbledon Nadal 3-0. In the Slams, Murray will always find someone who outplays him like Cilic, Roddick, Berdych or the two all time greats. I fail to understand why you think he's closer than ever to achieving a slam. Add to the mix that he will never win a Slam on Clay, Nadal has the measure of him on grass (2008 and 2010), Del Potro (already a Slam winner)to return in 2011 to dominate on hard courts....need I go on. I can't see him ever winning 7 best of 5 set matches without finding someone too good in that particular fortnight.

  • Comment number 43.

    @42 You have hit the nail on the head there.

    Of course the journalists and bloggers will hype up Murray, because their career depens on him been competitive (as Jonathan overend to his credit admits)

  • Comment number 44.

    Murray could not convert his set point or many of the break points. At the moment that is the difference and why Nadal wins. He will give you a chance but if you can't take it you lose. I would think eventually it will be Murray's turn but he may need help from an upset or two amongst the top 5/6.

    Nadal is beatable as Murray,Soderling and Del Potro have proved and Federer is close(not there yet i think) to the end of being a major threat and so Murray will get lots more chances.

  • Comment number 45.

    "Murray was a matter of points away from beating Nadal. The key factor in my opinion was that he was too passive on the big points in this match.

    Nadal won't give you these points... you have take them.

    If he had played like he did when his serve was threatened by Nadal... then he would have broken Nadal's serve more often"

    I think that is a spot on analysis. On the average points you can afford to be patient but on the big points you have to take control. The likes of Nadal and Federer don't miss on really big points, the double and redouble their focus and find the seemingly impossible winner and Murray doesn't always assert himself on the big points like the Federer and Nadal.

  • Comment number 46.

    @ #44 'Federer is close(not there yet i think) to the end of being a major threat and so Murray will get lots more chances', dream on!

  • Comment number 47.


    On what basis will Del Potro dominate on hard courts. You win won Grand Slam it doesn't mean you're going to dominate, gimme a break. If you make statements like that on the basis of a single 2 week period then you cant possibly say Federer will win anything again (after all he hasn't even made the semis of the last 2 so he cant possibly win one) if you're going to make wild sweeping ridiculous generalizations then at least make them consistent.

    For the record I do still think Federer is a factor but to suggest that Del Potro, who is out with a long term industry will dominate a surface on the basis of one tournament is ludicrous. You don't know what Del Potro is going to come back let alone knowing if it was just a one hit wonder. After all just ask Novak Djokovic about winning a slam and then generally plodding from there on in.

  • Comment number 48.

    #47: "Del Potro, who is out with a long term industry"

    You mean he has a job? :-D

  • Comment number 49.

    so you don't realize that many games were decided by a couple of critical points? Federer nearly lost in the first round too.

    It's nothing wrong being patriotic, but it's still important to stay objective too.

    Murray is a good player, great at times. A 2-2 record against Nadal in Grand Slams is decent, but not great.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ Syyeung

    "A 2-2 record against Nadal in Grand Slams is decent, but not great."

    By what measure? Is there any player in the world - aside from Federer - who has beaten Nadal more than once in a Slam? Is there any player who has played Nadal more than once in Slams who can boast a better than 50% record?

    I'm all for trashing brain-dead cheerleading for Murray - the fact is until he wins a Slam there will be a question-mark against his record - but seriously, this is a pretty dubious attempt to downplay Murray's credentials.

  • Comment number 51.

    Murray has a great chance at the US this year. Since coming back after the Aussie final and going through a bit of a blip he has cultivated a slightly different attitude around the media and and done someting similar on the court - he's more aggressive. He's always been quite no nonsense with the media but now he gives great answers but without putting anyones nose out of joint. for the first time he seemed genuinely confident and relaxed going into the Tsonga and Nadal matches wheras before he has seemed to be just saying the right thing.
    I was quite disapointed that he was so outplayed by Nadal but i think Murray was just slightly more to blame than you make out here, Jonathan. We all saw him really take the game to his opponents in the early rounds and attack at the right time rather than sit back. When I watched the Nadal match I thought he had relapsed a bit and undone the work he has done adjusting his game. It's not a big adjustment but it works when he does it. He's a natural counter puncher so perhaps he just slipped back into his usual mode when the going got tough.
    I'm an eternal optimist i know, but Murray can win in New York. His best surface is hardcourt and he has been deep into majors many times now. The only player that will stop him i think is a fired up Nadal chasing a career slam... we'll see...

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

    somewhatlong, why on earth would people prefer to be eternally pessimistic and write off every british sportsman every time they suffer a setback?

  • Comment number 54.

    @Kapnag - You could quite easily turn around ask the opposite question : Why would you keep predicting Murray's grand slam win is round the corner for the last 3 years when all he has done is lose badly in a final ?

    Its not about being pessimistic mate, i am sure your opinion and my opinion is not going to make andy go and have a rethink about how we treats his gameplan / strategy, but for god's sake dont be swayed by mediocre, patronising and i hate to say this, public funded journalists keep feeding us hope everytime he fails - do an adjective search on this article and you will see what i mean. If he is so much an expert, why cant we read about what was wrong with murray, or how well nadal played and what in our esteemed journalists opinion should murray do to being a poor man's djokovic making the odd grand slam final. At 24, Nadal has already won 8 slams - take a peek at some of the national press and see if they hail him as the next best thing to patatas bravas - I think not!

    Overend quotes simon barnes about the all or nothing ideology of british sports fans - He should perhaps see that a very educated population is somewhat swayed by opinoins like these which are publicly funded (sorry to go on about this) so as to lend some impartiality. You never get that with this blog - Its always 'murray win round the corner, keep reading my blog longer and you will believe it' - no wonder we are hugely disappointed when he doesnt win because all we are fed with is the belief that a historic moment is round the corner..I havent seen one in years, have you ?

    I specifically read this blog when Murray lost tamely to berdych at the French open - and yet again we heard that somehow Overend gets to speak to Murray the man in a way we cant and gets us this juicy piece of information that a win is round the corner - unfortunately the performance is there for all to see.

  • Comment number 55.

    Responding to myriad gainsayers.
    Wonder why Federer and Nadal always try their very best to play their very best against Andy Murray. As most Murray-bashers cite these great champions as hurdles Andy will never surmount then their preparation, their pre-match comments, their energetic commitment during play speaks of what? Mugs? They are not mugs.
    Try living with Nadal when he's pumped like an oil well, try getting to set point against him in that mood or even breaking his serve. You cannot even imagine what that takes.
    All you need to know is that the lad Murray is the best tennis player the islands of Britain ever produced. Check the stats and then park your bile for other great British sportsmen who deserve it a heck of a lot more than this man.
    I don't care if Andy Murray never wins a grand slam; the way he has carried himself the last years and particularly the last weeks speaks of a champion to me. A great champion; someone for people to be proud of. Some people anyway.

  • Comment number 56.

    somewhatlong, you've assumed an awful lot of me (as well as Murray's future it seems) about why I think Murray can win a grand slam, trust me, I'm not too bothered about what the media say - even though it's not just the media talking murray up, but current/former champions as well (oh yeah I forgot, they're just being courteous).

    I think it is pretty obvious he can win a grand slam, he's got to two finals, enough semi finals and can still improve. He has a vast array of shots and has the stamina to challenge. He has beaten the worlds best players, there is absolutely no reason why he cannot bring it all together in the next 3 years. He still has plenty of time on his side.

    One afternoon it can come together for him, but it's not easy, grand slams are not easy. Nadal and Federer make it look easy, but they are committed professionals who are making the very most of their talents, and have forced the likes of Murray to up their game to catch up, which Murray has responded to, without question.

    He's not the best in the world, he never will be, but that doesn't mean he can't ever win a grand slam. That's just stupid to assume he will never challenge for the next 5-6 years. What do you base that assumption on? Past british challenges? What have they got to do with Murray? Maybe if the british stopped asking him questions every 5 minutes about "being the first brit since god knows when to win something" he'd feel less pressure every time he reaches the semis/finals. I guess that's something he'll have to try and deal with though.

    The bigger story is that he is Britain's single hope for a win, which would be the reason why there is so much focus on him. People should be getting more angry about the total lack of british presence on the world stage, not attack its only representative and downplay them as an also ran.

  • Comment number 57.

    A rather disappointing blog Jonathan. I'm not sure what you're trying to get across. Perhaps you didn't read my comments of #37 & 42 in your blog of 06.06.10.

    I can only take on board the comments made by #42 Mark as a valid explanation.

    Rather than repeat what has previously been said, I would have to totally agree with #39 Paul.

    JamTay1, you are wasting your time trying to educate people who do not understand or constantly follow what happens on the tour.

    I watched 4 of Nadal's matches live at Wimbledon, he has this knack of settling for a single break and then conserving himself when receiving, this attitude led him to have to play a third set tie break against Sod but he learnt his lesson in the fourth. The same can be said of the 2 five set matches he played.

    As Hasse & Petzscher actually took 2 sets off Nadal I guess there is also a Dutch & German Blog professing how close their boys are too!

  • Comment number 58.

    @Kapnag: Without meaning to labour the point, let's face up to a few facts here. The point I have been trying to make here are not against the expectations of a nation with plenty of 'over-promise and under-deliver', on the contrary as part of the general public we have every right to bring our own expectations and patriotism sometimes take precedence over good punditry. If you were employed by a public service broadcaster to report murray's progress in a grand slam, surely you will at least change the script after over 3 years of grand slam promise. My gripe is primarily over the misplaced jingoism that is purported by such reporters paid for by the public purse. You can expect this from private media, read sky reporters: Prior to england's world cup, andy gray (not sure if thats his proper second name) sky sports' football pundit waxed lyrical over how rooney will outscore other strikers, how capello brings the balance required to oversee an overpaid premiership footballers - only to completely backtrack post debacle and ask who in their right minds would employ a foreign coach ? You can understand such spin from the private sector, where their day to day viewership is based on getting the players on their side - not one sky sports team member spoke of the rooney & co bottle merchants on the big stage.

    Dont keep pointing murray's near-misses as being close to the post - the first two of the last three years have been murray's ascent to the no.4 position which he has made his very own. The whole murray corporation / consortium has a lot of financial stake going for it - if you are part of murray's coaching staff or his marketing staff, it is worth potentially millions to you or if you are a journalist touting his imminent success, it is worth a well-paid job to do what you like. At the same stage Nadal had won wimbledon once and a few frenchies as well. Federer won his first slam at 21 and has not looked back since. Agreed these are mere stats and some peak later than others (no pun intended); however, until 2003 and later, no one knew of fed and nadal until they exploded on to the scene, and who is to say the next crop of players to come on the scene wont beat nadal's physical and accuracy prowess or federer's class for that matter.

    You make a fantastic point of the fact that 'at the moment' and you are right to caveat your statement, murray is well outclassed by fed/nad/djo. Good point, well presented..I have never read Over his end, jonathan make a neutral point like that - Why ? because he dared not it seems!

    Former champions talking murray up, i.e mcenroe (who predicted he would win a 'shed-load' about 2 years ago)Becker (who only said he 'can' win a slam - well if he is no.4 statistically he has a 1 in 4) and more recently Bjorg - the one common thread is these guys have a job to put a positive spin on it as they are seeking lucrative british journalistic jobs - professional success in britain has a lot riding on it my friend! When Michael Chang famously won his first (and only slam) aged 16, McEnroe said he would 'drop his pants on centre court if he won another slam' - I doubt he would be doing that if murray didnt win one in the next few years. To me, Murray simply has not shown that he can handle the big stage expectations well - tsonga should have been a walk in the park, instead he admitted post match he was merely hanging in there, and if tsonga wasnt injured, we would have only heard this false post-portem a day earlier. On these posts, i once foolishly touted he would win all 4 slams - only to deconstruct how me and several others are led to believe this - after all there is a good decade of marketing material to ride on. I really wonder what henman has to say to this all, having been in exactly this position.

  • Comment number 59.

    @57 and 58

    Two very well made points. The real question is if the BBC can't refrain from joining the patriotic jingoism bandwaggons, then who else is left?

    Sports journalism as a whole seems to be either 'celebrity' gossip or patriotic drum beating. Very sad to see.

  • Comment number 60.

    ALAS THE BLOG OWNER HAS NOTHING MUCH TO SAY ON THE MATTER !! Much like for Murray its a much-deserved rest for him and back to the drum-beating in approximately 8 weeks' time.

  • Comment number 61.

    @JamTay1 : Good question imho - The debate of what is in good taste will always be in question as long as there is public funding. The BBC has to justify the funding with the viewership/readership, so if they want to keep people interested, there has to be a spin that is suited to the viewer/reader's taste. And i'm sorry i am not that monkey who will help complete the loop - It is the majority of bozos on this forum who need to see how the 'oh poor murray, he is bound to do it sooner rather than later' types who need to stop expressing their disappointment with renewed and misplaced hope. I am sure if we the audience were to be a more educated lot, such journalistic trash would at once be rejected.

    This overend guy reminds me of some post colonial journalist lapping attention from sportsmen who need him to throw a few words here and there about him - if you look up his twitter page you will see his followers are players who need such attention - its a classic british you scrach my back type situation. I'd give it five years, murray's injury woes start, and it is back to the 'time to give it one last shot' stages. 7 years down the line, and after some £100M for Murray, and some of that to his american wife, his coaching staff, and a decade of churning out this blog's trash later i am sure we would have found some new hope to latch on to..

  • Comment number 62.

    @ somewhatlong

    At the risk of appearing somewhat cynical, I would suggest that in Laura Robson we will have the next British great hope story...........

  • Comment number 63.

    Now now, I'd at least wait till the puppy fat has worn off lol!! Not my comment before anyone starts jumping on me.

  • Comment number 64.

    Don't you mean Heather Watson...or is she not British enough?!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Is she British ? I don't know if she is or not, the comment was intended as be a joke and glad you realiased it. Also for the record, I live in scotland and yes i do consider him british.

  • Comment number 66.

    At decisive moments in the match Murray still played the same. He is not use to attacking the opponent when it is necessary in a major.The 84 mph second serve at set point was not going to win that set.
    Can Murray change?
    If you always do what you have always done , then you will always get what you have always got'

  • Comment number 67.

    Ha ha I can't believe I didn't get shot to pieces for that comment! lol

  • Comment number 68.

    What I love about these so called tennis fans is that they think that speak as if they could do what Murray can't and that is dominate Nadal or Federer!! As for people making comparisons with Henman and Murray is just ridiculous! They are miles apart in achievements and playing styles. And as for comments surrounding that Nadal wasn't 'fit' or was 'fatigued' in his defeats in other GS ecounters is ridiculous too. Maybe instead of 'thinking' you understand physical conditioning, you might actually pick up a tennis racket and play the sport.

    Muray has the tools to win a Grand Slam title. His previous 2 GS Finals he has come up against the greatest player to have ever played Roger Federer. And how Del Potro beat Federer in last years US Open Final might have something to do with the 50% of first serves Federer made which shows how poorly Federer peformed and yet he managed to make it a 5 setter. If you take the Australian Open final Murray tried to play his way into the match and just got torn apart by a brilliant performance by Federer in the first 2 sets. Murray has yet to hit his peak, so before the panel of experts here start writing him off you may want to make a better judgement when his career is over.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ legend killer

    When you have to resort to the retort 'well you couldn't do any better!' it usually means you are losing the debate!

  • Comment number 70.

    All I can say is that jam tay posts some utter rubbish doesn't he.

    Trying to equate Nadals performance on grass and clay to be equal to that on hard court just shows how clueless he is.

    Murray is far more effective on HC than Nadal ever will be. Nadal relies on slow courts so the ball sits up for him to smash away. Murray on teh other hand uses the pace of HC to put teh ball past his opponent without having to use too much force.

    Still jt - you keep posting and we'll keep laughing at your utter ignorance of the sport.


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