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.
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 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
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.
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.