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Murray playing the same game Federer is?

Posted by tennisplanet on July 27, 2010

Game name: Desperation?

Murray has ZERO titles this season with one final and one semifinal as his best outing – in 10 attempts. And that’s not even the worst part of it. Not only has he not been able to break the Slam barrier despite being in the finals twice in his career, he has now lost to both Federer and Nadal in straight sets after posting incredible numbers leading up to the match.

Before the two ‘hammerfications’ Murray had lost just one set the entire tournament. And virtually owned Federer (H2H 6-4) AND Nadal (Winning three of the last five). But to go down that tamely on the big stage (one at home) – twice – without even winning a set has to inflame the already bruised ego that went on the roof to claim that he will own the No. 1 rank by year-end.

In retrospective, given Federer’s record in the past about 15 tournaments starting from late last season, that AO loss looks even more painful when even Gulbis was able to beat Federer – on clay, not to mention the whole garden variety of players with bragging rights.

Loss to Nadal wasn’t anything close to soothing either. Nadal had two back to back five setters in early rounds to tomato cans and was coming off a grueling clay season in contrast to your smooth ride right up to the match with nothing to drain your fuel on clay.

Looking back, both matches today look like sitters given existence of all conditions potentially able to have a bearing.

It’s hard to imagine that results of this season in general and these two losses in particular have not impacted Murray’s psyche so adversely that a change of coach or a girl friend etc. can do any good. If Murray is not where Federer is versus Nadal mentally, he may not be too far from that scenario either – with big stage replacing Nadal in that set up and local pressure fanning the fire beyond control.

All that inevitably leads to just one road called Desperation Blvd leading to knee jerk reactions on the first available scapegoat. Kim could be next followed by return of that hippy and creepy hair down to his shoulder.

Difference? One is hiring, the other is firing.

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14 Responses to “Murray playing the same game Federer is?”

  1. Phil said

    It’s funny, because Murray has always played down the importance of his entourage of coaches. He’s even admitted that he sometimes just tunes them out and doesn’t heed their advice. He’s always hinted that he knows what’s best for his game and any comments that clash with his vision are just ignored.

    Now it seems that he’s looking to pass the blame for his recent poor form off on the coaches. I don’t see what he possibly hopes to gain from such a move just before the US Open. He’s not good enough to go it alone imo. This might very well spell disaster.

    • Jenny said

      Your first para is interesting, Phil. I hadn’t heard that, obviously I don’t know the guy, but my own personal impression of him isn’t too far from it. I know when Andy was with Brad Gilbert, he seemed to be on the right track, but I would imagine Gilbert isn’t one to take any crap, I do rate him as a coach, not that I’m a particular fan of Gilbert as a personality, so I can understand there was a clash of personalities and an inevitable parting of the ways! However, I was rather surprised when he employed this big entourage, at the time I wondered were these a group of ‘yes’ men, unlike the tough Gilbert. Alex Corretja is also highly respected, so I thought that was a positive move. To be fair, Andy was doing rather well with this group.

      His loss to Fed at the AO brought him down to earth with a bang, [infact I thought a fresher Cilic would have beaten him in the semis and Rafa retired injured in the quarters] and sent him into a downward spiral mentally, imo he was feeling sorry for himself, because his efforts on the court after that were pathetic, but then he was meeting quality opponents who were the better players on the day. He chose not to defend points in Doha at the beginning of the year before the AO, I believe he played in a team event in Australia? instead where no points were on offer. Why on earth would he do that? He isn’t Fed or Nadal who can cherry pick. He also withdrew from Marseille at the last minute after his loss at the AO, his reason being he needed more rest, for goodness sake it was around two weeks after the AO, there were no physical injuries mentioned, other players were slogging away immediately after the AO, as you know the tourney director was not best pleased but let him off the hook. I didn’t expect too much from him on clay, but there were signs of life and motivation, although it didn’t help when he ran into an inform David Ferrer who beat him in Rome and Madrid in straights, I wouldn’t criticise him too much for those two losses, it didn’t surprise me, there was no real competition before it [An aging Chela past his prime, and Hanescu in Rome] but I do think he was in some denial about his defeat to Ferrer in Rome, given his post match comment. He probably thought he had a chance having beaten Andreas Seppi who’s no slouch himself. He was then beaten in straights by Kohlschreiber in his first match in Monte, and we know he can be darn good on a given day. As you say, Phil, ‘he’s not good enough to go it alone imo’

      Apologies if I sound negative, I try to be objective regarding all the players, and it is just my opinion.

      • Sol said

        Wow, Jenny. You have a great memory. To be able to remember all that, and MAndy is not even one of your faves, it takes a real tennis follower to do that 🙂

        I don’t know what to think of MAndy. I know I’m in the minority here, but although I don’t particularly appreciate his tennis, I really have nothing against him. He looks way more low-key than Djokovic was when he came on the scene, for example. I know that, unlike Djoko, MAndy didn’t win a GS but he also didn’t come out with the “I was in control” stuff and the “I’m the next number 1” and all. So he seems fine to me.

      • Jenny said

        I really don’t dislike a player on a whim, [lol maybe Nalby when he was beating Fed in the early days] and certainly not in Andy’s case, they have to give me reason on more than one occasion for me to be harsh. I did criticise Djoko when he went through his mouthy period, as I recall, it was down to Novak and his mother for not treating Fed with respect that I first began posting here! Novak has well matured in that area since then and I really hope he finds form.

      • Phil said

        I agree with everything you said Jenny.

        Look I think the point is this: the other guys on the Tour have figured Murray out. When he first started playing well he really threw a lot of guys off. Who was this clown junking his way through matches? Slice forehand? No pace on the ball? What the hell? It won him a lot of matches because nobody knew how to deal with it. However, now everyone’s had a good long look at him since his breakout in late 2008, and they know how to beat him.

        If I were coaching someone who was playing against Murray, there are a couple of obvious points I would drive home:
        -Murray always, always, always, ALWAYS passes cross court. I have been counting how many down-the line passes he’s attempted this year (and I’ve watched almost all of his matches), and I counted 1 failed pass, and 1 made pass. Now there may obviously have been more, but the point is 99% of his passes go cross court. Cilic at the US Open last year, Fish in their last 2 encounters, Federer in AO, they all have realised this. They don’t even try to cover the lines, because they know the cross court pass is coming so they can cover it with ease.
        -Murray will not put you under pressure, so don’t over-hit. If you are on the defensive, don’t try to go for a winner, because Murray will almost never follow a big shot in to put away an easy volley or even an easy forehand. That means you can float defensive balls into play without worrying about him killing you at the net. At the AO, I was nearly crying with laughter at how predictable this pattern of play was. Federer KNEW Murray wouldn’t put pressure on him, so he kept himself in rallies by just floating balls back into play from difficult positions.
        -Murray loves pace. He’s a great counterpuncher, but he HATES generating his own pace. BUT, you can hit through him if you hit hard enough(as Federer, Gonzalez, Nadal, Berdych, Soderling etc. have all done) So else you have to crush every ball, or make Murray come up with his own speed.

        Murray is feeling majorly sorry for himself right now. He’s always championed his style of tennis, insisting that he can win a Slam playing his way. Apparently, that’s one of the main reasons he and Brad Gilbert split. Murray wouldn’t change his style of play to what Gilbert thought was a Slam-winning game. That’s why he got, like you said, a bunch of yes-men to be his buddies instead of his coaches. But now his style is letting him down, and he doesn’t know what to do. Firing the coach is not the answer.

        He’s become too predictable in the way he plays, and guys are picking him off. I will be incredibly interesting to see how he goes against Gulbis in LA. The Latvian will hit through him, imo (if he plays well, that is).

        LA is a huge event for Murray’s confidence. It’s a nothing tournament which he SHOULD, as the world number four, be able to win with his eyes closed. If he doesn’t…well, dark clouds on the horizon.

      • Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

        Agreed Jenny. Great points, Phil! Murray’s had his ass handed to him by the best in the world at the AO, FO and Wimbledon. Even Henman has noted that the wimbledon loss will hurt real bad for a long time. Common sense would prevail at this stage and slap him out of his delusion but no, the surly scot is still stubborn and he will continue to learn the hard way when he faces one of the big guns in slams.

      • Jenny said

        Well said, Phil, agreed on all counts! First para, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I didn’t know the reasons for the split with Gilbert, so it was purely a guess on my part, it makes sense now.

        As you know, I support Ferrer, have watched him blossom and improve over the years through sheer hard work and committment with his long-term coach, so I was intrigued to see how he would handle Murray and the British hype on clay because he’s not a power blaster with a big serve, but he does have guile and supreme clay court movement and fitness, neither will he bow down in reverence, plus he’s not afraid to come to the net and volley these days and win points. I must admit to having a wry smile watching those matches, because David did exactly what I expected/hoping he would do, typical elite clay court MO, he was not going to lose. Did you see those matches? If not, I’ll post clips for you.

        Yes, meeting Gulbis will be interesting, I hope I get to see it, tonight for us I think? I wonder who Andy’s next coach will be, I’m sure he’ll use Cahill through Addidas on a part-time basis, but it’s not a long term solution, that has to come from Andy himself and reliant on his ability to listen and play more tennis, win or lose, he can’t rely on quality opponents making errors these days.

      • Phil said

        Yeah I saw those Ferrer matches. LOVED those Ferrer matches! I am a huge Ferru fan – just love his passion and humility. He made Murray look like a clown on the clay. The problem for Murray on clay is that his biggest weapon – his ability to run down a million balls – is totally neutralised. On the slow red stuff EVERYONE can run down a million balls. Murray just can’t hit hard enough to stay competitive on clay against the specialists.

        The Gublis match is tomorrow night late (for us). Murray is playing some tomato can tonight, who he’s guaranteed to beat. Mind you Gulbis still has to win another match too.

        I don’t know who his next coach will be, and quite frankly I don’t think it matters. He needs to WANT to listen to a coach, which he obviously doesn’t. To me his current phase is reminiscent of the one Roddick went through for years. He went through a ton of coaches who he obviously didn’t want to listen to, and as a result had middling results all the time. The thing that changed his life was saying “I want to change. I want to win. I want to listen.” He’s said that he gave Larry Stefanki (his current coach) carte blanche and told him he’d do whatever he told him to. The results have been awesome (Wimbledon final, Miami win, Indian Wells final etc.)

        Now Larry Stefanki is the best coach in the world imo. What he’s done with Roddick and what he did with Gonzo before that is nothing short of miraculous. He has a reputation of taking troubled players and teaching them to play COMPLETE tennis. But again, the student needs to want to learn, which both of those guys did.

        A guy like Stefanki is exactly what Murray needs. Cahill is also brilliant, but I believe I heard him commentating at the US Open last year, and he was very insistent that Murray needs to be more aggressive. This is not what Murray wants to hear.

        Incidentally, it was during the US Open last year that I heard Gilbert make those comments about his (then already ended) coaching relationship with Murray. He said the kid is unbelievably stubborn and wants to prove to everyone that he can win HIS way, and is very resistant to change.

        I don’t see Murray improving any time soon. Over the past few months he’s had very little in the way of top-tier competition to content with, and he’s still not been able to bag a title. In the next few months we’ll be seeing the return of Gonzo and Delpo, and Cilic and Davydenko will likely start firing up again on the hard courts. A much tougher field – not one you want to face if you’re struggling like he is.

      • Jenny said

        I’m glad you loved those matches. Actually I think Andy could learn a lot from Ferrer in more ways than one, I think you know what I mean. Maybe Andy could do a stint with the tough Javier Piles who stood no nonsense from David in the early days, [eg the well known lock up in the ball cupboard with bread and water, extreme, but it worked, tough love] Piles is wily and had faith in David’s ability to be a top player, despite Ferru’s own lack of self belief, I think he really believed he was the worst player in the top 100! They’re still together 11 years later, just David, Javi and Andres his fitness coach.

        I totally agree about Stefanki! Gonzo has always had a natural talent, imo, but his mind used to wander and he would lose focus and matches he should have won. I admire Roddick for taking what Larry says/advises on board and one can see it working on the court.

        I’m looking forward to seeing the injured big boys return, but it will take a few matches for them to get into the groove.

      • Jenny said

        Hey, Phil – You’ve probably seen the news – Gulbis has been beaten by Falla. Looks like we won’t get a Gulbis/Murray encounter this week.

  2. mircea said

    he should hire his gf to coach him. Then she could be the one to dump him. Too much drama, not enough trophies.

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