TIMING IS EVERYTHING
ANDY MURRAY: DO I FEEL SORRY FOR HIM OR BLAME HIM?
When I think about Andy Murray, part of me pities him for being around at a time with three of the best players of all time. I keep pulling for him to finally break through, and he continues to disappoint. The other half of me, though, blames him for not changing his attitude, affect, energy, or strategy on the court enough. He is still way too mopey and negative and whiny out there, and he continues to try certain tactics in big matches that simply won’t work.
To me Murray shows just how much the phrase timing is everything applies to tennis as well as life. I believe if Murray were playing between the years of say 2000-2003 he would be a dominant #1 in the world and be winning major championships. He is every bit as good as a Hewitt or Ferrero or Moya or Muster were when they got to #1. That is plain old bad luck for him. Instead, he has to face Rafa time and time again in the semi’s of majors, knowing that even if he wins, Djoko or Fed is waiting for him. That is a tough, tough ask. Those 6 sets are the toughest 6 outs in tennis history.
That is brutal for Murray. That makes me feel really bad for him when he comes within a few points of beating Djoko in an epic Aussie Open semi and then takes more and more abuse from the media for losing again. He absorbs a lot of flack and does a pretty good job of not allowing it to beat him down.
On the other hand, though, Murray needs to change something drastically if he wants different results. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He can’t go out there time and time again with the same attitude and conduct. He needs a change.
Here is what I would suggest for Murray were I his coach:
1) Act happy and peppy on the court. Even if he has to completely fake it, keep his body language positive. You don’t see Rafa pouting or looking defeated during a match and that sends a message to his opponents.
2) Only hit slice backhands when he is on the run and in a defensive position. You do not slice your way to major championships anymore. He also has probably the second best two-handed backhand in the world.
3) Try to hit every forehand 15 percent harder, and try to hit much, much fewer of them in the middle of the court.
4) Never hit another drop shot.
5) Learn to hit that 80 percent first serve to increase his first serve percentage and hit fewer second serves.
If he did these five things (and I know they would be really hard to do, but shouldn’t it be hard to win majors at a time with three of the best ever?), I am confident he could reach the next level.
The question is, can he force himself to do it? Can he get out of his comfort zone enough? Will he become more and more discouraged, or will he do what Rafa has done his whole career and make the tough adjustments. Look at what Rafa has done with his career. He came in a pure clay-courter, and now he has won all four majors, is a great volleyer, stands close to the baseline at Wimby, and is constantly working on his serve. That shows to be great you can’t get complacent, but have to constantly look for ways to grow.
In addition to the changes and adjustment lesson, Murray also shows me that yes timing is everything and we can’t change the hand we are dealt, but we CAN choose how we will respond to it. We CAN make the choice not to mope and wish we were dealt a different hand, but instead to do everything we can to make the most of our cards.
Look at what Rafa has done in regards to coming up during Fed’s reign? He could have become angry and discouraged to be behind the greatest of all time, but instead he chose to use it as motivation to be the best he can be.
That choice is always in our hands.