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Where next for Murray?

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Jonathan Overend | 21:55 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

He is in a hazardous place, Andy Murray, and he doesn't need reminding of that.

No confidence, no explanation. Nine sets lost, four matches lost. The worst run of his career. These slumps emphasise fallibility, weaken locker room reputation and raise more questions about his ability to mix it with the very best when it really matters.

He knows how badly he's been playing ("I've messed up," was just one of his quotes following defeat by Alex Bogomolov on Friday), so what is important now is the future. What is he going to do about it?

He has an "advisor" and a "traveling companion" but can either Alex Corretja or Dani Vallverdu legitimately claim to be his coach? Corretja wasn't in Australia or Miami. Vallverdu has no experience.

The debate for the past few days here in Miami, and no doubt among all his supporters, has centred on his coaching situation. And what makes this debate so interesting, not to mention the constant speculation linking him with possible coaches such as Ivan Lendl, is that nobody can guarantee one way of working is better than another.

Who knows best? Nobody knows.

There are too many imponderables, as shown by this list of questions. How many of these can we all give a definitive answer to?

1. Can a player have sufficient natural talent to win a major on his or her own?

2. How much influence does the coach actually have when the player is world class?

3. Does a successful player make a good coach?

4. Is a part-time adviser as good as a full-time coach?

5. Is a bit-part player who never made the top level capable of coaching a major champion?

We all have opinions, and a lot of people think they have all the answers, but the issue is too complex, too individual, to say anything with any certainty. For example, I still believe Murray has sufficient talent to turn up at Wimbledon without a coach and win the title if things go his way. That's my guess at number one.

Andy Murray

Murray has failed to win a set in three matches since losing in the Australian Open final


On number two, I would say that the coach can influence a world class player's mood and mindset much more than strategy or technique, but every relationship is different and if the player won't listen, the coach has no influence at all.

Many people can claim to be successful coaches having never played professionally: the parents of Serena and Venus Williams, Richard and Oracene for example, Piotr Wozniacki, the father of current number one Caroline and, perhaps the best example of all, the Australian Bob Brett who, while a handy player at domestic level, has his entire reputation based around his coaching (and it is rare for someone's reputation to be so universally admired in tennis).

That would respond to number three and, as for four and five, my reply would be simply, "Who can tell?"

If Andy Murray had won the Australian Open, as his form suggested he was capable of doing up to the final, would Dani Vallverdu, the 25-year-old Venezuelan who accompanies Murray most of the time these days, be hailed a genius and the next coaching guru?

Murray has said for a long time that he doesn't want someone travelling with him full-time for 40 weeks a year, so that situation seems unlikely to change. He has also said that if he brings anyone new into the team, it would probably be someone with Grand Slam winning pedigree, either as a coach or player.

So that's where we come to Ivan Lendl.

Many greats have talked up their desire to coach Murray in the past - John McEnroe and Mats Wilander are just two of them - and Lendl simply joins that group. A new name every week, it seems.

I have been told by his management there has been no contact with the eight-time former Grand Slam champion. He is surely too busy to take on the role and why would he want to go back on the road to be at the beck and call of someone with a chequered history of coaching relationships?

And why would Murray want to hire someone with so many current commitments and no experience of coaching?

The thing with Murray - something you understand watching and listening to him at close quarters over many years - is the more people tell him to do something, the less likely he is to do it.

It would take something truly remarkable for that relationship to happen. Andy Murray has more chance of hiring Ivan the Terrible than Ivan Lendl.

Having said that, Murray needs help from someone to sort out a worrying slump in form. As Nadal, Federer and Djokovic battle at the top of the game and the returning Del Potro shows the sort of form which took him to the US Open in 2009, Murray is well off the pace at the moment.

Against Bogomolov, in his second successive defeat to a player ranked outside the top 100, he lost his serve seven times out of 10 and failed to hold successively in the entire match. His backhand looked tentative, his movement was inexplicably bad and, in general, he appeared like a student lost for a subject without a textbook.

This is not the Murray we know. Yes, people question his style of play, but normally his movement is as magically preemptive as predictive text. It is the key to everything else in his game when things are tuned and ticking.

Murray is low on confidence and everything stems from that, it seems. As Novak Djokovic told me a few days ago, it proves what a mental game tennis is. Murray hasn't suddenly become a bad player for the rest of his life. He looks bad at the moment but will soon be reminding us of his talent again.

The worry is that the same post-Australia slump happened last year, only this time it's worse. He says he doesn't know how it's happened or why it's happened, which is why he needs to talk to someone who has been there.

Andre Agassi's book emphasises the importance of the coach to winning major titles. They are there to help - that's their job - and even though he has the talent to win one on his own, Murray needs some rescuing.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think we always neglect the huge influence from his mother. All very Freudian perhaps, but the strong bond that so clearly exists between them puts a wedge through any relationship that Andy has with his coaches and entourage. He owes her a huge debt of course for her single-minded vision in guiding him more or less to the top of the sport but now he needs to leave the nest and move onto the next level.

    There is no other tennis player in the top ten with his mother attending every single major match they play. And she is not just any ordinary players' mother, she is a hugely influential figure in British tennis. Just imagine trying to come up with new game plan that doesn't please Dame Judy? It brings doubts in Andy's mind and tensions to the new relationship. That inner circle is locked down- it screams it from a mile away.

    At the moment he doesn't "not have a coach", clearly not. He has the close and careful advice of his mother. Great maybe on some levels but it's obviously not working anymore.

    Andy needs to grow up. Properly to grow up. And to do that, his mother needs to let him go so that he can mature further and then go on to truly achieve the potential that he can achieve. It's a tough ask, but if that happens we may just see a whole new Andy Murray playing tennis and maybe, just maybe, Great Britain may just see its first Grand Slam Champion since the Middle Ages.

  • Comment number 2.

    BBC Sport constantly runs headlines like "Murray suffers shock defeat." Early defeats are such a frequent occurrence that the word "shock" is inappropriate. Murray needs to get some mental backbone or his talent will continue to be wasted. Djokovic has shown that it's possible for a sometimes flaky player to get his act together.

  • Comment number 3.

    Never mind changing coaches all the time; Murray needs to leave his mum at home during tournaments. It was clear to see that she was nothing but a hindrance during the Oz final - shots of Murray telling her to shutup showed that. She clearly thinks she knows everything and no coach will be able to do their job without her putting in her 2 pennies worth anyway.

    Perhaps Murray needs to look how the other top players operate and emulate that.

  • Comment number 4.

    Murray could do worse than appoint Boris Becker as his coach. Or even John McEnroe, maybe even Lendl.

    Someone who been has been there and done it. Lendl lost his first 4 Major finals before figuring it out and look how good he turned out.

  • Comment number 5.

    I couldn't agree more FeedtheRoonandheshallScore (3. At 23:54pm on 28th Mar 2011). Anything else is just a red herring (including Jonathan Overend's entire blog posting here - Sorry Jonathan!)

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm wondering whether its the case that he needs to spend time with someone like Dave Brailsford. Andy seems to have the ability to be the best player in the world, but something in his head seems to stop him. I seem to remember reading an article on the beeb website a year or so ago detailing how Dave Brailsford and someone he was working alongside, specialised in finding ways of getting sports people to perform at their very best when it mattered. I think if someone can get through to the relevant part of his brain and remove the negativity and distractions that seem to go on during his matches then Britain will finally have another grand slam winner.

  • Comment number 7.

    Andy Murray doesn't need a coach. He has in fact played his best ever tennis since dispensing with his coach, Miles McLagan.

    He's beaten Federer and Nadal convincingly, and in Masters finals or semi finals since then.

    It's not complicated at all.

    He just freezes every time he gets near winning a slam.

    He had a head-to-head victory over Djokovic already, on exactly the same hardcourt type surfaces before this year's Australian Open, and for him to lose a 5 set match therefore without even taking a set is clearly just an anxiety driven performance.

    He did exactly the same last year against Federer in the final, played like a dead man walking.

    He's simply mentally conflicted about winning slams. He's walloped the best players in the world several times over in Masters competitions, but as soon as it comes to slam semi-final or final time he starts to wobble.

    Then the awful trauma of losing yet another slam sinks him emotionally so much, he goes into a downward spiral which takes him months to get out of.

    It's worse this year, because he's lost yet again, and to arguably an easier opponent, who is on good form, but still not good enough to beat Murray 3 sets 0 if Murray really played his best.

    Players of near equal talent should be going to at least 4 sets if not 5 in slam finals, as we've seen so often in the past.

    Murray believes his life will change if he wins a slam. It will a bit, but not all that much, unless it's Wimbledon.

    Murray's failure and decline is nothing to do with his tennis ability, so no tennis coach is going to sort it out.

    If he needs any kind of coach, he needs a good therapist or motivational coach, such as Anthony Robbins, it's nothing to do with tennis technique, which he has in abundance when he gets his mind right and starts hitting his shots in.

    I think at heart, it's simply he can't cope with the burden of British expectations on him, as first Brit male slam winner since Fred Perry, and so he has to face up to this burden that the media and public put on him and accept it, or he'll never win a slam.

    It's that simple, and all hiring a new coach is going to do is giving him a means to put the blame on somebody else if he fails, for giving bad advice, when he's proved he doesn't need a tennis coach by his last 2 Masters 1000 wins without one, and getting once again to the Australian final, and it's a problem in his mind that only he can conquer.

    But I've heard him pretending that the pressure of expectations doesn't bother him.

    It would be better if he started being honest, and said to the press "Yes, actually it makes my life a total misery having this burden of 76 years without a slam, and the whole weight of the nations expectations on me every slam final or Wimbledon semi-final, and I don't know guys if I can ever deliver for you. Sorry. I'll go out there and do my best, but I might crumble under the pressure. Because that's what's been happening so far."

    He's got to be honest with himself about this, and with the media too, I feel, or he'll never overcome this mental problem, and never win a slam.

  • Comment number 8.

    Murray will never win a slam. You heard it here first....

    Motihur Rahman

  • Comment number 9.

    Now he's angry, but at some point, he has to get even!

  • Comment number 10.

    Why not employ James Corden as a cheer leader? they seem to get on well. Plus it would help his diet because Corden would jump on unhealthy food lying around.

  • Comment number 11.

    Looking at Murray lately I get the impression that if it isn't a Slam then he isn't nearly as motivated as he used to be. Lets face it he won plenty Masters tournaments he has beaten all the top guys either at tournaments like that or in Slams. The only thing he has so far lacked is going that final step at a major. So another form slump in the lengthy gap between Australia and the French Open is no surprise.

    Will this come back to haunt him going into slams on back of poor form and potentally staying outside the top 4?

  • Comment number 12.

    2. How much influence does the coach actually have when the player is @world class?@

    LMAO, I can't believe my TV license money goes towards paying a harry potter look alike

  • Comment number 13.

    I think he has the ability to win numerous slams but maybe not the head for it, right now. As mentioned, he has beaten all the top guys at big events but often looks lost when tackling them at the business end of a slam. Perhaps he should go with Lendl or Becker on a trial basis for maybe 3/4 months, then see from there but his Mum should step away for a while.
    It certainly won't get any easier for him but his ability will always give him a shot, a few a tweaks to his game and a stronger mental approach might just get him to peak when it matters the most.
    I'm a believer for sure, it's no like he's been a one tournament wonder.
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 14.

    oh and about his mom reminds me of the movie "The Manchurian Candidate" 2004 its the same relationship as Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber. Lol.

  • Comment number 15.

    The line about Ivan the terrible is genius, but seriously Murray does need to stop being pig headed, move away from his mum and start listening to people who have been there and done it.

  • Comment number 16.

    #8 Motihur Rahman

    You seem awfully sure of that, Mystic Motihur. Have you been reading tea leaves again? if you know anything about tennis, (which i kind of suspect you don't), you will see that its history is full of players who were written off as being incapable, for whatever reason, of winning a slam, whether considered not talented enough, not physically strong or fit enough, not possessing the right temperament or stamina, or not being mentally strong enough - eg Lendl, Cash, Edberg, Ashe, Chang, even Borg and Agassi in their early days. So, you can never say never. Murray has the talent, and physical attributes, but needs work on the mental aspect. That can be rectified. What must be remembered also is that not a lot of players are winning Slams outside Nadal, Federer, (2 of the best players EVER), and to a lesser extent, Djokovic, so it's tough on the circuit at the moment. Cut Murray some slack. i suspect your comments are in fact motivated by that tiresomely familiar, turgidly boring and chippy anti-Murray attitude, because he once made a light-hearted comment about not supporting Eng-er-land at the World Cup. Diddums. Did he hurt your feelings? Get a sense of perspective...and a life.

  • Comment number 17.

    1. At 23:35pm on 28th Mar 2011, armchair_sports_fan wrote:
    I think we always neglect the huge influence from his mother. All very Freudian perhaps, but the strong bond that so clearly exists between them puts a wedge through any relationship that Andy has with his coaches and entourage. He owes her a huge debt of course for her single-minded vision in guiding him more or less to the top of the sport but now he needs to leave the nest and move onto the next level.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh come off it.

    I just find it absurd that when British sportsmen don't meet our expectations we seem to come up with the most trivial and over-complicated explanations. It's ludicrous.

    In 2006 the England football team failed apparently because of their attractive WAGS running amok in Baden-Baden. In 2010 it was because they were bored and tense from being holed up in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, far away from their families.

    And apparently Andy Murray loses Grand Slam finals to gifted opponents... because of his mum.

    Yes, Andy's mum is his weak link. The public have spoken. Mummy distracts him on those crucial points. Murray loses because he's a mummy's boy.

    For crying out loud. GET A GRIP PEOPLE. Stop coming up with the most pathetic, absurd excuses or trying to find ways to mock high profile sportsmen on the basis of their personal lives, and accept that Murray is a top 5 player, not number one in the world, or number two in the world, but top five- when he meets a Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic its a tall order for him. End of. There's no need to over-analyse it or over-complicate it, particularly with theories like that, which are utter rubbish frankly!

  • Comment number 18.

    I think Jamie Murray has it pretty spot on - Murray can win a Slam, he can win them plural, but he has to be able to take instruction and listen.

    People have been saying this for years but it's not so easy when you're the actual person involved. However, if he wants to really reach that top level, and consistantly, that's what he needs.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sometimes bad form can be a good thing. Hopefully Murray will reflect on how things are at the moment and realise he needs to a) do more and b) be prepared to change his game even further.

    I also think that it is unfair to never expect Murray to drop in form and to keep on winning. What you also have to take into account is that Federer and Nadal have unrealistically altered how we view top tennis players. When I grew up watching tennis there was never one single player that dominated for most of the calender. Generally the tennis "year" was broken into sections whereby you would expect to see players peak only at certain times, not all year.

    I think another thing to keep in mind with Murray is how Novak has turned himself around. There was a time in the not too distant past where you would watch him and wonder how he was going to make it through to the second week of a slam. He didn't look like a player who had won a slam and he certainly didn't look like a player who would ever win another. Here he is now though, currently the best player in tennis, regardless of what the rankings may say. Bringing it back to Murray though, there is always a way back if you have the talent he has....

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes all players need coaches.

    The role of a coach for a top level player is one of checks and balances, a second pair of eyes that will ensure that routines and drills are completed on schedule and to the correct intensity, as well as one that will watch for subtle bad habits forming. Without one it is far too easy for a player to fall from peak training performance without even noticing it himself, the player doesn't train 100% correctly, that effects his match performance, which effects his confidence, which then leads him to question his current methods and tinker which can move him even further away from peak efficiency. The cycle can become a spiral without an outside influence.

    There is a school of thought though that a full time always there coach can be too close and miss the same things as the player does, a coach who comes in occasionally can see gradual changes more easily because of the lesser frequency, whether that is the main coach or a second advisor is up to the player.

    Personally I think he had the correct setup, the companian in there to ensure motivation for his daily work while the advisor comes in for specialist sesssions.

  • Comment number 21.

    It was interesting to see Navratilova say the other day that Murray needs a bit of an attitude transplant in order to take the next step and be able to win a Slam. Take responsibility for what happens on court, don't moan in the direction of your box, and accept the fact your opponent has the ability to hit winners.

    I had heard a current coach say exactly the same thing after the Australian Open, I guess there must be something to it. I felt he missed out last year on Peter Lundgren, who went over to coach Stan Wawrinka with some success already (including a win over Murray in New York).

    But coach or not, he has to get his mind right; on the flip side, you'll be hard pressed to find a person involved in the game who doesn't believe Murray has the talent to win a slam.

  • Comment number 22.

    To be honest I think Andy Murray needs to completely change his mindset starting with his team around him. The fact that he does not want someone with him on the tour for 40 plus weeks is something he may have to consider changing if he wants to win a Grand Slam, and if he is not prepared to listen to a coach/ex player and take in some new ideas then his game will not improve. His brother Jamie is right, he needs to let his guard down and take instructions and listen to advice. I also think a good move would be for his mother to stop being in attendance at the major slams, what other top player's mother has such an influence on their son's game? Things didnt work out a few years ago with Brad Gilbert possibly a clash of personalities but look what he did with Andre Agassi all those years, and Agassi was in a simillar situation at the beginning of his career to where Murray finds himself at the moment.
    I think the sooner Murray finds himself a full time coach and is prepared to listen to advice, travel together etc the better.

  • Comment number 23.

    I've said this for years, he's a Major flop.

    Put it in any circumstance or round-about way, but just check it out. Hes on his worse set of form, (even worse than last year). He has excuses for everything, and the fact is i would bet heavily that he will never win a Slam. Period.

    Call me unsupportive or whatever, but when he gets millions, i expect him or any other sports man/women to perform at 110% of the time. I dont get paid my wage every month for putting in 50% stake. If i did i would be out the door.

    Cant remember the likes of Djokovic, Federer, Nadal going through this really bad spell of form, Andy's ment to be at/near his "Peak"?? Shows doesn't it :)

  • Comment number 24.

    reccy doesn't watch much tennis obviously. Djokovic had an astounding loss of form after he won his 1st Aus Open. Couple of years.

  • Comment number 25.

    23. At 12:13pm on 29th Mar 2011, Reccy - I fit into a bra comfortably wrote:
    I've said this for years, he's a Major flop.

    Put it in any circumstance or round-about way, but just check it out. Hes on his worse set of form, (even worse than last year). He has excuses for everything, and the fact is i would bet heavily that he will never win a Slam. Period.

    Call me unsupportive or whatever, but when he gets millions, i expect him or any other sports man/women to perform at 110% of the time
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Utter rubbish.

    Murray out-performs every other GB professional tennis player by a country mile.

    He's reached the world top 5, he just can't that make that jump to being a Slam winner in this era. The fact that he's very good but not quite the genius who can win Grand Slam finals as easily as people think he should in their own fantasy worlds does not mean that he is a 'flop' or not performing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Murray's problem, and part of this stems from the press, is that he has been overhyped. For years he has been aiming too high and now that he has failed to meet those expectations, he is in limbo with no ladder to get back to earth. He is currently good enough to return great britain to the world group of the Davis Cup but instead he focuses completely on the rather spurious aim of a grand slam in an era when the top 3 in the world are the greatest ever and playing their greatest tennis ever. He does not have the fortune of a leyton hewitt who managed to win between the reigns of Sampras and Federer so instead he needs to focus on realistic goals and hope he can gradually improve in the long term to fulfill his grand slam dreams. Right now he should copy Henman's tactic of connecting to the public and creating enthusiasm in this country for tennis. Although Tiger Tim didn't actually win Wimbledon, he was a champion in the minds of the british public by being a good loser. If Murray took this approach he would also reduce the pressure and unrealistic expectation on his shoulders which could then lead to a renaissance in his game.

  • Comment number 27.

    It would appear Andy is becoming very stubborn, which is holding his game back. For his own ambitions it is imperative Andy gets a top class coach urgently, to raise his game to a higher level, which is now sadly lacking. He must take notice of this coach, which may be his last chance of a Grand Slam. He requires to be more aggressive on court & develop more powerful weapons like a seriously powerful forehand & consistent 1st serve, to compete with the current crop of power. players. He should get rid of all his "yes men" team & get a nutritionist in to sort his apparent unhealthy diet, which is also very important, as most top athletes now realise, also serious fitness coaches, which I think is the least of his worries. It would be a crying shame, if this British player with so much talent, probably the best men's player since Fred Perry, could not break this country's Grand Slam blight.
    Tennis Coach

  • Comment number 28.

    12. At 10:27am on 29th Mar 2011, bongolandgooner wrote:

    2. How much influence does the coach actually have when the player is @world class?@

    LMAO, I can't believe my TV license money goes towards paying a harry potter look alike

    -----------------
    You gooners are an unpleasant bunch!

  • Comment number 29.

    17. At 11:02am on 29th Mar 2011, Vox Populi wrote:
    1. At 23:35pm on 28th Mar 2011, armchair_sports_fan wrote:
    I think we always neglect the huge influence from his mother. All very Freudian perhaps, but the strong bond that so clearly exists between them puts a wedge through any relationship that Andy has with his coaches and entourage. He owes her a huge debt of course for her single-minded vision in guiding him more or less to the top of the sport but now he needs to leave the nest and move onto the next level.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh come off it.

    I just find it absurd that when British sportsmen don't meet our expectations we seem to come up with the most trivial and over-complicated explanations. It's ludicrous.

    In 2006 the England football team failed apparently because of their attractive WAGS running amok in Baden-Baden. In 2010 it was because they were bored and tense from being holed up in a hotel in the middle of nowhere, far away from their families.

    And apparently Andy Murray loses Grand Slam finals to gifted opponents... because of his mum.

    Yes, Andy's mum is his weak link. The public have spoken. Mummy distracts him on those crucial points. Murray loses because he's a mummy's boy.

    For crying out loud. GET A GRIP PEOPLE. Stop coming up with the most pathetic, absurd excuses or trying to find ways to mock high profile sportsmen on the basis of their personal lives, and accept that Murray is a top 5 player, not number one in the world, or number two in the world, but top five- when he meets a Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic its a tall order for him. End of. There's no need to over-analyse it or over-complicate it, particularly with theories like that, which are utter rubbish frankly!

    ---------------------

    There is no mocking about it. You either didn't read or properly understand my first post. It's advice to help him progress further, that is all. It's not just that it is his mother, it's who his mother is - she is a hugely influential person in British tennis - who happens to be his mother and to whom he owes a great deal of his career to date. That is going to be a tough relationship to overhaul.
    Bottom line - he isn't progressing any more and constantly has these losses of form. What is the common thread throughout? It's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 30.

    Alex has gone here come Ivan lets go Andy!

  • Comment number 31.

    27. At 13:33pm on 29th Mar 2011, englads2fan wrote:
    It would appear Andy is becoming very stubborn, which is holding his game back. For his own ambitions it is imperative Andy gets a top class coach urgently, to raise his game to a higher level, which is now sadly lacking. He must take notice of this coach, which may be his last chance of a Grand Slam. He requires to be more aggressive on court & develop more powerful weapons like a seriously powerful forehand & consistent 1st serve, to compete with the current crop of power. players. He should get rid of all his "yes men" team & get a nutritionist in to sort his apparent unhealthy diet, which is also very important, as most top athletes now realise, also serious fitness coaches, which I think is the least of his worries. It would be a crying shame, if this British player with so much talent, probably the best men's player since Fred Perry, could not break this country's Grand Slam blight.

    ______________

    Great comment son. When the fitness trainer and nutritionists and physios make him one of the most healthy players on the planet. Then you just rehashed what Jamie has said. He has now taken on Ivan Lendl so its over

  • Comment number 32.

    I think there are 2 main things:

    1. Nasty green adidas shirts are counterproductive.

    2. Constant mother presence - leave him alone to do his own thing!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Murray needs rescuing JO? Oh come on, do me a favour. This "slump" hardly constitutes anything cataclysmic. I wouldn't even call it a slump. Player lose matches, "simple as", and any of the top 5 can be shot down by someone in the 100s. Get over it and leave the kid find his own level, in his own time. Your expectations of him are far higher than the expectations he has of himself - work in progress, that's all it is.

    You speak in a way like he doesn't know what he's doing. A few months ago people were howling that Fed was on his way out, losses here and there. Please, this is sport not a Playstation game where the unpredictable happens more often than not. Didn't hear you harp on too much about Roddick going out either, why not?

    1. He will get a coach (or whatever) when he needs one.
    2. His confidence will come back in time.
    3. He won't lose much ground because of this "slump".

    And you said it yourself - you think he will get to final of Wimbledon "if things go his way". Did you need to say more than that in the first place?

    The issue really is simple and there really aren't too many imponderables. He just needs to win a few games.

  • Comment number 34.

    It's all confidence, needs someone to build him back up.

    My thoughts in longhand - http://www.thetennisscoop.co.uk/home/blog/on-andy-murray

  • Comment number 35.

    The one reason Murray needs a good coach is the same reason he has had so many ups and downs. He has never managed to keep his first serve consistent and it lets him down when he needs it most.
    Top players get themselves out of trouble again an again with their serves (hasn't anyone noticed how the most imporved part of Doko's game is his serving) and Andy's serve collapses when he needs it most.
    I've written this many times but it's worth repeating here. Andy should pick up the phone, call Pete Sampras and ask how much he would want to teach Andy how to do it, because no one did it better than Pete.

  • Comment number 36.

    Andy is a confidence player...when he's feeling good, his tennis play can be magical and he can beat anyone, but the lows are alarmingly low. This is very different to the likes of Federer and Nadal, who have an amazing consistency of play.

    At the moment, I wonder if Andy is losing his interest in tennis slightly. It's not that hard to imagine, given he's essentially trained and played full time since a young age. That's a lot of years of tennis...and after a couple of grand slam final setbacks, maybe he's just tired of it all?

  • Comment number 37.

    I really do wonder at some people here. Sure, Andy is having a bad run of form and needs to sort it, but comments like this ...

    >> At 12:13pm on 29th Mar 2011, Reccy - I fit into a bra comfortably wrote:
    I've said this for years, he's a Major flop.

  • Comment number 38.

    I hardly think it's fair to say 'major flop'! Murray has reached three slam finals which in itself is a ridiculous achievement and one that should be celebrated. 3 slam finals, 6 masters series wins and a high of world number two - flop I think not.

    I agree that there do appear to be some psychological problems in the latter stages of slams though. Evident in his matches with Ferrer in the Oz semi this year as well as with Djokovic in the final (who in fairness would probably have beaten anyone that day, as he is currently proving with his winning streak), and against Roddick in Wimbledon 09 semis, Murray's level definitely seems to drop when the stakes get seriously higher in those stages of a slam.

    Ultimately though, I think it has to be Andy that sorts this out. It's obvious he has the talent and the work ethic to win a slam. Perhaps being shot of his mother for a while would help, though huge credit must be given to Judy's provision, particularly the all important avoidance of LTA interference.

    But until that slam comes, a winning record against the greatest player of all time, and mixing it well with Nadal and Djokovic, Murray is an unbelievable player and is definitely in with a chance when he recovers his form come the grass season. We should all lay off and him and support him for that slam victory

  • Comment number 39.

    After that pitiful capitulation in Melbourne this year, I finally lost the rag with Andy. On his day, he can capably pulp any player in the world, but the alarm bells started to ring in the semi against Ferrer. I don't see a lack of desire, but that mental toughness that carries players to championships seems to be in short supply. For an example of where sheer determination can get you, he needs to watch Ivanisevic's path to glory at Wimbledon in 2001. Only in the tournament as a wildcard (by memory, he was 125th in the world) and not long back from the latest of many reconstructions on a shoulder made wretched by so many years of sending screaming services down the line, big Goran's victory remains one of the most impressive sporting achievements I've ever witnessed. Perhaps, on the other hand, Murray's been hearing that he's due a major that long that he feels it can just happen on its own.

    His team - and my word, they are a team to behold, aren't they - in the final against Djokovic looked muted, as though they didn't feel they could criticise him. And this is really why I lost the rag after that defeat, because the LTA pay him and his entourage handsomely to jet around the world and Murray seems to think he can turn out turgid performances like all those perpetrated in the finals he's been in so far. Yes, finals are a great achievement in themselves, but what's the point of turning up if you don't demonstrate an ability to win them, never mind compete in them? Cut his revenue, turn half of that back into boosting the youth development programme and give him the kick up the backside he so sorely needs.

    Elsewhere on this site, Jamie Murray expresses his view that Andy needs to listen to coaching to improve and this speaks volumes. I would almost even advise the LTA to give Jamie the job as his head seems thoroughly screwed on. But from my view, the three things that Andy needs to fix now are as follows:

    1. First service; latter stages of the big tournaments see his service game go to pot far too regularly. He's not got the natural strength to serve like Sampras, so use the service box more wisely.
    2. Attitude; don't know the guy, but he seems too much a victim of the Scottish Calvinist ethos which would no doubt have surrounded him as he grew up. Being Scottish myself, I know only too well how we take such warm satisfaction from glorious failure - but, to paraphrase Dylan, there really is no success in failure, and failure's no success at all. I'd love a pint with the guy, but I wouldn't have him lead me into battle, that's for sure.
    3. Cut the crap out; get rid of that entourage, appoint a good coach and listen to them. And finally, carry your own kit bag to practice for crying out loud.

  • Comment number 40.

    Looking from the outside (as we all are) I suspect that whether or not Murray has the playing potential to win a Grand Slam the situation with his mother may be problematic as others have said.

    Ms.Murray seems to be an experienced tennis guru, playing a major role in British tennis and being a pundit on various channels.

    I find it hard to believe that in any situation in which Murray had a coach that she would not express an opinion to Murray on the way things are going, give advice, etc. Considering she is mainly responsible for his development as a player and accompanies him to many tournaments this would seem likely.

    No surprise then if such a "love triangle" were to cause issues for Murray.

    Perhaps this is why he fights shy of having a coach? Perhaps it's also why he finds it hard to listen to advice?

  • Comment number 41.

    Murray does not seem good enough to win slams. A new coach whoever he/she is will not change the fact he falls short of the top level.

    From what I see of Murray I really fail to see why everyone keeps saying he has the game to win a slam or is "too good not to" win a slam.

    And please don't tell me "this expert says he is good enough", "this legend says he's good enough", they all tell you that because when the BBC rams a mic down their throats they tell them what they want to hear to get rid of them. Guys like Sampras, McEnroe and Lendl probably dread the BBC reporters cos they know they will get that same old irritating question time and time again about whether they think Murray can win a slam and they say "YES now please just leave me alone!"

    Why do people keep saying he is so good when his performances at Australian Open 2010&11, US Open 2008, Wimbledon 2009&10 are five such examples demonstrating he does not have the game to beat the best on the biggest occassions? And don't tell me he has a positive H2H record against so and so! The big names play bigger on the big stages and when someone like Nadal or Federer or Djokovic can't be broken down by Murray's tedious defensive junkballing style Murray looks clueless and just hangs on in there until the inevitable defeat.

    Remember people always said Henman was good enough to win Wimbledon? He wasn't, he had a 4-0 record against Ivanisevic but that amounted to nought as Ivan won the match that mattered being the player with more success and better big match pedigree.

    Murray can beat Fed, Nad and Djok or Roddick on the small occassions but when the stars raise their game when it really matters Murray is just not good enough, period!

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with Our Lord Hamish's point about Andy's serve - and I think this is the key to him getting back on track. The serve is the one time when the player has total control over the ball. If that is not working, at 40% of first serve success and 95 mph second serves, any top 10 player is going to struggle against a top 150 opponent with his eye in and nothing to lose. Too often Andy's first serve slammed into the middle of the net in the Australian Final. This is surely about keeping cool under pressure and maintaining technique (and FOCUS), something that a good coach can sort with him.

    I do not buy the thoughts on Judy's influence - I do not believe that her presence at his matches in Indian Wells or Miami, for example, could have been a factor in his below par performances - if was she even there?

  • Comment number 43.

    I tend to agree with the first post.

    Murray comes across as someone who would not take criticism well and I would guess he would only listen to someone who has succeeded at the highest level. Perhaps some one like Lendl could help toughen him up a bit and stand up to Judy - Murray's tennis is fine it is his attitude that is lacking.

  • Comment number 44.

    At 12:23pm on 30th Mar 2011, Super D Boon wrote:
    Murray can beat Fed, Nad and Djok or Roddick on the small occassions but when the stars raise their game when it really matters Murray is just not good enough, period!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    That US Open Semi win against Nadal, including the Tim Henman destroying rain-break, must have been a figment of my imagination LOL.

  • Comment number 45.

    I don't think Murray should panic too much about his year so far. In the only Grand Slam of the year, he came second to an inspired Djokovic. He isn't as good as the top three players, but if he puts himself into the position of a Grand Slam final every year, he should be capable of learning how to beat them. If you compare tennis players to chess players, Murray is a bit like a 'computer' player - highly efficient, and intelligent but has a tendency to break down when something unexpected happens. The top three are all like 'human' grandmaster chess players with huge natural ability and the talent to play magical rallies that confound Murray. However if Murray puts himself into the right position over and over again, he will learn how to win. Despite his 'terrible' run, I think he's doing the right thing this year by playing more than last year- remember how Djokovic kept playing despite health problems for two years and look how he's playing now.

  • Comment number 46.

    A couple of things - both related. 1. Someone above made the point that Murray has beaten Federer, Nadal etc in Masters competitions, the implication being that this shows that he has the necessary talent. Not so imv. The winners in any field perform at their best in the most important competitions. The great players win Slams because Slams matter most to them. They turn it on when it really counts. That is a crucial part of their talent. Murray still has to develop that part of his talent. This particular weakness is often revealed when he displays excessive satisfaction with success in matches prior to the finals. They are only waypoints on the route to the real test but his sense of achievement seems too geared to lower level success. When he stops seeing quarter final victories as all consuming and instead just takes them in his stride as if they're only a necessary but secondary step en route to the prize that matters he'll be a lot further along the road to success.

    And 2. When the pressure is on and the game looks as it's starting to slide away he has the unusual and revealing habit of directing his anger at his coaching staff - as if they are to blame for his drop in form!! When the day arrives on court that he starts taking full responsibility for his game then he'll be making a major addition to the development of the winning mentality that he lacks at the moment.

    It's probably possible for a player to come along who has so much talent that the mental side of their game could be deficient but they'd still make it, but Murray isn't in that category. All the facets of his game plus his mental approach need to come together before he'll be able to win more than just a single possibly lucky Slam - especially if he faces competition like Nadal or Federer across the net. IOW he needs to mature, and to learn how to control his emotional investment much more effectively: on competing where it counts: in the finals, whilst learning to ruthlessly despatch the players who stand in the way of getting there.

  • Comment number 47.

    Jim

    Very perceptive, hope Murray can pull himself out of this slump.

  • Comment number 48.

    What Murray needs more than anything, and he needs one for two or three years, is a sport psychologist. He has all the tools already, he now needs the confidence to use them in a way that will win.

  • Comment number 49.

    Being coach for Andy Murray is a bit of a poisoned chalice, at least whilst Mother is waiting in the wings. If I were a coach, believe me, I'm not, I wouldn't want to go near Andy Murray's corner, unless I had had a point to prove. At least half my time would be spent getting the attitude back, instead of coaching. Maybe one is dovetailed to the other, but I can't see too many players on the circuit at the moment needing help with their attitude.
    Just my two h'appennies worth

  • Comment number 50.

    The recent slam winners Roger, Rafa, Nole and Potro all have huge forehands. Nole did not have one before, but now he does. Murray needs to add some zing to that shot of his. As for his coaching woes, I think Lendl would be a good solution, but Lendl will not care much for Judy giving her inputs from the side. Read somewhere that Judy does not think Lendl is suitable as he did not win Wimbledon! haha

  • Comment number 51.

    I love sport headlines from the BBC with a statement "BBC Sport Understands"....This usually means nothing but speculation and you need to fill your site with something on a slow news day.......Today it must be AM's turn. Please get back to reporting fact and stop acting like a tabloid newpaper.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nobody has mentioned Murray's knee. It looks to me as though two weeks of 5-set tennis is too much for it. He always seems vaguely injured by the end of a tournament and it wouldn't surprise me if it's his knee playing up.

  • Comment number 53.

    The opening post re: Judy is absolutely correct. She has basically controlled Andy's career right from the word go. To be fair to her she is a very shrewd tennis coach and knowledgeable about the game in general. But her influence over Murray is holding him back from growing up. No other top 5 player has or has ever had such an immature on court demeanour as Murray has. This i put down to Judy. She is just the ultimate overbearing tennis parent the likes of which you see at junior tournaments up and down Britain. What you also see is temper tantrums, teenager like sulks and the feigning of injury when losing to avoid losing face. All of which are in evidence from Murray even at the age of 23.

    Because of all the above i think the desire amongst former players to work with Murray is probably vastly overplayed. I cant see the attraction. As well as the on court demeanour there's the abuse towards the coach. Do you really think the massive egos of people like Wilander and Lendl would put up with this nonsense? Course they wouldnt. Brad Gilbert only put up with it because the LTA were paying him 750k per year.

    To reach his potential Murray needs to grow up as a person firstly, then maybe his tennis will grow up too. At present i dont believe he is capable of having a respectful 2 way relationship with a coach because the only person he has been conditioned to listen to when it comes to tennis is his Mummy. Leave him be Judy, then we might see a man emerge who is capable of taking the final step to winning a major.

  • Comment number 54.

    the more disappointment, angriness, enragement, infuriation, shouting you show to your opponent the more encouragement, challenged, inspired, dared your opponent will be on beating you down.

    Do what your coach says not the other way around, Focus on every points,
    Always put in your mind that the guy on the other side of the court has achieved what you have reached, because he was there infornt of you specially after the first round, from what i have noticed from you is that you are not able to switch mood easily, if you win - you win in straight times, but if you lose you lose straight times also, same goes for every points, every set and every match.

    Relax .... leave the past always focus on the present

  • Comment number 55.

    This may seem overly optimistic but I see Murray temporarily dropping to six in the world and then bouncing right back into the top 3 in the latter part of the year. Last year's slump was due to losing to RF in the AO, this year's slump is more protracted as the effect of losing two AO ( without winning a set) is compounded. Ok both times he came up against an opponent that was seeing the tennis ball like a football and playing in the form of their lives.

    The way he lost to djokovic without putting up a fight was dismal and dissapointing for viewers but on the other hand he had completed a gruelling encounter against Ferrer and had less recovery time than Dkokovic who was on an immense high in terms of confidence beating RF in 3 straight sets.

    I think Andy just needs his morale to be boosted a little and the coach will help get him on the right track but ultimately it's down to andy to find that extra will power and doggedness that we have seen so often from him on the courts. Maybe the clay court season will be a pleasant surprise to Andy as he has very few points to defend and he is dumfoundedly still 4 in the World due to Soderling misfiring in Miami.

 

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