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No need to panic after surprise exit for Murray

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Jonathan Overend | 08:30 UK time, Monday, 12 March 2012

This time last year Andy Murray threw in a dismal display and lost to Donald Young in his opening match here in Indian Wells. He was even worse in his next outing, over in Miami, where Alex Bogomolov Jr couldn't believe his luck.

After reaching the final of the Australian Open, successive losses to players with three-figure rankings hit Murray's confidence and shocked his supporters.

Of course he recovered, reaching three further Grand Slam semi-finals and winning big titles such as Queens and Shanghai, but those March defeats hammered the message of the moment home; hire a coach Andy, get some help.

He was ready to do it during an extended stay in Florida, when certain people were definitely on his radar, but the big call came in December with the hiring of Ivan Lendl. And it is Lendl's wise counsel which will help Murray through his latest Indian Wells disappointment.

While Saturday's defeat to the Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was a major shock - nobody here in the desert saw it coming - the same inquest as 12 months ago is not required. You only have to look at Murray and talk to him to realise he's in a much better place; totally different to the confused shadow of self-doubt we were seeing this time last year.

Murray suffered a surprise 6-4 6-2 defeat to world number 92 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his opening match at Indian Wells. Photo: Getty

There is no need to panic on the basis of one defeat to a player who until relatively recently was ranked as high as 23. Garcia-Lopez played a brilliant match, hardly missing, and his single-handed backhand was devastating. Murray played poorly. Garcia-Lopez played well. Match over, inquest over.

Now we look for the important signs. Did Murray look confused and lacking purpose? Not really, he just couldn't keep many backhands in court. Did he lose it mentally or throw endless strops? No, he kept it together despite the trash he was often serving up.

A phone conversation with Lendl on Sunday morning ended with Murray clear about what went wrong and what needs to happen next. He wouldn't expand further but that clarity, in times of disappointment, is a vital step forward from last year.

Having said all that, it was a bad loss and a major missed opportunity to pick up valuable ranking points to help close the gap on the top three.

At least he was able to get straight back into the saddle with a doubles victory alongside brother Jamie. (What an entertaining match it was, against Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, with a capacity America crowd cheering four British players.)

He could also do with avoiding the virus which, we're told, is sweeping through the Coachella Valley and the desert cities, including Indian Wells.

Several players have pulled out of the tournament including Gael Monfils, Jurgen Melzer and former Wimbledon finalist Vera Zvonareva, who was too ill to play on Sunday night.

Roger Federer has a high temperature but says there's something going round his family. "There's tons of stuff going on at the moment," he says, revealing his wife and daughters are more poorly than he is.

The bug hasn't hit the press room yet but if the @5livetennis twitter feed falls silent, you'll know why. Apparently line judges and ball kids are down with it too. Nasty.

Fresh as daisies appear to be Rafa Nadal, who looked in thumpingly good form after his six weeks of inactivity, and Victora Azarenka whose unbeaten run this season appears in no danger of ending any time soon.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Andy's failure to pick up ranking points at Indian Wells when he has none to drop after the 2011 slump is disappointing. One loss does not however a slump make, and lets hope that top level performance soon follows - I feel more confident that this will happen this year than last.

    Interesting to see the doubles result, in the light of the question of doubles representation for team GB at London 2012. Not sure how many men's doubles pairs GB will be able to enter - interesting potential selection headache - also not sure whose decision it is? It will also be interesting to see who is/are selected as the mixed doubles pair(s) - any thoughts Jonathan?

  • Comment number 2.

    Achnacarry10,

    Only 2 pairs from each nation max get to repersent a country depending on whether they qualified or not. I think Flemtch will qualify by right and Andy and Jamie will because of Andy's singles ranking, but then we have a lot of good doubles so it will be up to them. Mixed doubles will be decided at the tournament but I wouldn't be surprised to see Elena/Laura or Heather play in the mixed. It all depends on how many draws Andy is left in, to decide the men's spot to be honest.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well said, this was a missed opportunity to pick up ranking points, but that's about it. The other difference with last year was that Murray has had a good tournament since the Australian, including that win over Djokovic. So really no major concerns at all, and surely he'll be raring to go in Miami later this month.

    Totally random fact, this is not the first time this tournament has been hit by the puke flu. Think it was back in 2003 when some wag christened the venue Indian Bowels.

  • Comment number 4.

    "And it is Lendl's wise counsel which will help Murray through his latest Indian Wells disappointment."

    Seems a bit strange that you give Lendl credit for something he hasn't delivered yet. I don't see any great improvement to Murray's play, his attitude or his results so far.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice irony Jonathon - Nadal being fresh as a daisy

  • Comment number 6.

    Jonathon, after so many years at the Beeb, can't you write 'different FROM'? Very irritating.

  • Comment number 7.

    @#4 fatclyde

    How can you not see an improvement in his attitude? In his semi against Novak the difference to his demeanour was almost revolutionary - there was no shouting to his box. A pre-Lendl Murray would have crumbled at a set and a break down. Yes, he lost, but his performance was extremely encouraging. Don't forget that epic rally on break point at 5-5 in the final set - a millimetre the other side of the line from Djokovic on that forehand would have meant Murray serving for the match.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am going to comment something that might hurt. I think that Andy plays better when he does not have his mother watching.

  • Comment number 9.

    None of this changes the fact that Andy has to have a big win this year or (as I've already posted) he will take over the title I gave Tim Henman years ago-that of being the 'nearly man'
    What's still missing from Andy's game is consistency--consistency in his serve from match to match--consistency in his game from match to match. The top 3 all lose from time to time but what they don't do is turn in a very poor performance, like Andy does

  • Comment number 10.

    would love to see some help for murray, another british male or 2 to ease the pressure. even top 100

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree there's no need to panic about this (it's not like last year) and I still feel Murray will end the year ranked number 2. Not quite as confident as I was, however. The big problem (for Andy) is the other three.

  • Comment number 12.

    Murray played one good match v Djokovic but he hasn't really backed it up since has he? He wasn't brilliant early on in Dubai then benefitted from a combination of fast courts and a not 100% Djokovic to reach the final where he choked a few opportunities at 2-3 in the first. And here he's gone out to a journeyman. It's all very well complaining about how well Garcia played but this is what you have to deal with. Over the years there have been many occasions where someone has come out against Federer and played the match of their lives. Invariably he still beat them such is his attacking greatness. Murray still relies too much on his legs to win him matches and this means he often expends a lot of physical and mental energy over the course of a few events. This takes its toll eventually and results like this happen.

    By the way there is far too much talk with Murray about tomorrow. It's "he's improving this" or "he will soon be number 2". Let's face facts: he's nearly 25. Whatever he says about players peaking late this is the peak of his career. Right here right now. Before you can blink he will be in his late twenties and people will still be saying the same things about "progression" then. Get real.

  • Comment number 13.

    Saga@11

    The big 3 need to slip up for Murray to catch up - Djokovic is looking under par at the moment and Murray had a good win against him in Dubai, so hopefully this was just a bad day at the office for Murray. Fed's sweeping up the points in the minors at the moment, so Murray is going to have to really perform in the Slams to overtake him.

  • Comment number 14.

    coats 13

    The main thing I might have wrong is Nadal. I was seeing him fading away somewhat but I'm not so sure now. These two masters (IW and M) will tell us quite a lot on that.

  • Comment number 15.

    @tenniser

    Presumably you're fishing for a fight - the alternative is you don't know what you're talking about. Honestly, I'm not sure which is the case here.

    No, obviously he hasn't backed up anything since his 'one good match' against Djokovic. Beating the same guy - the only man to manage it this year, by the way - a few weeks ago obviously didn't register on your radar. Oh, Djokovic wasn't 100%? Neither was he in the Aussie Open final, but that didn't help Nadal. And then Murray went and lost to Federer - best player of all time, best form player on tour in the last six months - in the final. You're right. He's rubbish.

    Years ago Murray himself said that mid-to-late twenties are the peak years, and many agree with this assessment for tennis players. That's where he is right here right now, so feel free to come back in a few years when you're right. Only you're not, and you won't be. So instead, feel free to come back when he bags his maiden slam and offer your apologies through mouthfuls of humble pie.

  • Comment number 16.

    "The big 3 need to slip up for Murray to catch up"

    And he has to get past the first round, as well.

    Mmm.

  • Comment number 17.

    Why do you say this result is a shock? Anyone in the top 100 can beat anyone else on their day. This was clearly Guillermo's day, and he's ranked 92. It staggers me that you may think lower ranked players are just whipping boys for the top 5. This is a professional game and as such these things should be expected at every tournament. If it's not Murray being dumped by a lower ranked player it could quite easily be another in the top 10.

    After watching tennis for 35 years, coaching for 10 and still playing tournaments I can assure you that this sport is one of the most brutal and nothing is certain. Time and time again the top players scrape through matches against lower ranked players, and the outcome of matches sometimes hinges on 1 or 2 points or errors.

    The simple message Lendl should give to Murray is the need to aim to be at his best at all times because this sport is the most demanding both physically and mentally.

    "Now we look for the important signs. Did Murray look confused and lacking purpose? Not really, he just couldn't keep many backhands in court. Did he lose it mentally or throw endless strops? No, he kept it together despite the trash he was often serving up."

    Not keeping "many" backhands in court is a mental thing because to me it suggests a lack of concentration to do the basics. If you start making errors you seek to change things. To carry on doing the same thing smacks of apathy. Harsh? Not really. An off day? Maybe. But these are the demands of professional tennis. 100% concentration. 100% application. 100% determination. If at the end of the match you win, that's a bonus.

    Stop seeing results like this as "shocks". They're not. It just confirms the strength in depth at this level.

 

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