Andy Murray is having a pretty darn good year, and it is only April.
He was won titles in Doha, Rotterdam and Miami, with wins over Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Roddick in the 2009 campaign, with a startling 29-3 record.
Presently ranked fourth with 9050 points, he is nipping at the heels of both Djokovic (9160 points) and Federer (10060 points).
Interestingly, the number one and two positions have been held by Rafa and Roger every week since July 2005.
To my mind Andy recalls the movement and anticipation of Miroslav ‘The Big Cat” Mecir, and the cunning and wiles of John McEnroe. Hardly a big banger, though certainly capable of punishing the ball, Murray relies on movement, change of pace, playing a patient counter punching style.
Darren Cahill commented, “Murray moves so well he “shrinks” the court, and from nearly any position on court he can roll tricky angles or hammer the ball outright for winners.” (agility, guile)
As regards shot making Federer said the following after his semifinal loss to Murray at Indian Wells, “Murray is a great counter puncher and reads the game really well. He knows he doesn’t have to play close to the lines because he can cover the court really well. I think that calms him down mentally.” (composure)
And from Andy Murray, “I try to explain that there’s more than one way of dictating points. It’s not just going for big, booming serves and huge forehands. If you change the pace with the ball a lot and mix it, I’m playing the match the way I want it to go. Very rarely do I lose matches having let the other guy play his natural game.” (guile)
Take a page from the Murray handbook – become better at analyzing what your opponent likes and does not like. Too often you and I may focus too much on our own shots, our winners and our errors. But this perspective obscures the tendencies, and weaknesses on the other side of the net. Resolve to pay more attention to your opponent on the other side of the net.
Remember, in the not too distant past Murray was tutored by Brad Gilbert, the Master of Winning Ugly. Somehow Murray makes it look easy rather than ugly.
PS. You too can do this!
Guile – chicanery, craftiness, cunning, deception, wiliness
Composure – calm, assurance, cool headedness
Agility – moving quickly lightly and easily, nimble