Andy Murray – Guile, Composure, Agility – the Next Big Thing?

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


  • Robin Ley

    Reply Reply October 31, 2010

    Murray brings a fascinating style of play to the tennis world. His effectiveness is unquestionable as his results speak for themselves. Nevertheless, he is susceptible to getting blown off the court (though very rarely!) by players with guns, who on the day, are on top of their game.
    Excellent article, and I will be sure to search your site for a deeper understanding of how to import more guile, composure and agility into my own game!
    Im so excited to watch the best player’s battle in London:)

    • Jim

      Reply Reply October 31, 2010

      Robin – thanks for the note, and agreed about the big guns when on their game, but Murray is still coming

  • Terry Davidson

    Reply Reply June 11, 2009

    I saw Murray beat Federer in Dubai last year. First time I saw Roger rattled enough to say ‘ if he (Murray) keeps playing like (disturbing my concentration with these wimp drop shots) that he won’t get far’.

    True comment about having a multifaceted game, but remember that Murray fired Gilbert, as he didn’t take long to see through him.Murray is what he is because he believes in himself, not in some old guy living on his reputation for cunning, not for talent.

  • Joe DiNunzio

    Reply Reply May 17, 2009

    Excellent strategic advice AND a wise systemic way of approaching each match.

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