Andy Murray – How to Learn from Him.

Andy Murray currently number 4 player in the world, has been criticized for being too passive & for relying on the other player to lose rather than win the match himself.

Let’s break this theory down a little & find out how much is valid & how much is not; let’s see what we can learn from Murray – the good things &, in my opinion, the one bad thing.

Let’s start with the myriad positive aspects of Murray’s game.

Test 1.*
Imagine you are playing a match & are driven deep into the corner by your aggressive base-liner opponent – that’s right, they have played a killer ball deep in the court that has forced you to scramble but they have not come into the net.
What do you do?
a. You’re out of position, off-balance, so you increase your swing speed and try for a winner down the line.
b. You lift a deep, higher ball to your opponent’s corner & recover back into position for their opponent’s next ball.
At the club level, how often do we see a. but never with Andy Murray.
He always buys time with b. He is the master of the neutralizing ball when out of position.

Test 2 **
The net rusher has played their approach shot, you:
a. try & blast a winner past or at them
b. you dip a ball at their feet, move forward & put away their half-volley.
Murray (along with Nadal) is brilliant at b. He is instantly on the move, anticipating the short half-volley.

Other great qualities of Murray – he moves forward to the Return; varies the pace, direction, spin and length of his strokes; doesn’t risk going for the lines so much as many of his peers; he has a loose, relaxed grip.

So much for the right stuff – we haven’t even included his head and eye-stillness & his cat-like speed.

However, one thing we can learn which is just as valuable as all the above admirable qualities of Murray, is a deficit in his game – recognition of when to attack.

Test 3***
When should we attack?
a. ball is deep, you are off-balance.
b. ball is short, high, you are on balance and set.

Not much of a test, eh?
Yet, to my mind, Murray continues to hit too many neutral balls even when he is perfectly set, balanced & inside the court & in a position to attack the ball.

The increasingly powerful and fast modern game – great strings, incredible rackets, amazingly conditioned athletes – require that when you get the opportunity of a short, high ball, & you are on balance then you simply must grasp the opportunity and punish your opponent with an attacking stroke rather than continue with the neutralizing rally ball that Murray is so adept at.
For example, even Nadal, considered by many to be the greatest defensive player of all time, when given a slow, high hanging ball & when he is set and on balance, will play an attacking ball. Del Potro does it. Djokovic does it too. They all do it, except Murray & he is getting left behind because of this singular omission in his game.

In conclusion, we’ve already suggested the criteria of when we should go from amber to green light in tennis, going from neutral to offense: you receive a short, high, hanging ball & perhaps the most vital component of all, that you are planted & on balance. Being aware of all these components is a necessity in today’s game. The best players, at any level, know when to go from neutral to attack, using balance & quality of incoming ball as their primary cue. When Murray decides to more routinely transition from neutral to offense as a matter of policy, then watch him gain the Grand Slams his talent deserves.

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