Great article from Cash earlier this yearhttp://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article6990805.ece
Since clambering up Wimbledon’s Centre Court architecture all those years ago I haven’t been known for my impetuous gestures, but Andy Murray forced me to return to my old ways.
So impressed was I with the way Murray went about his business in the build-up to the Australian Open that I marched into the locker room at the end of one of his matches and gave him a firm shake of the hand and said: “Good on you, mate. You have finally played the way I want to see you playing and if you keep going that way I am sure you will be a Grand Slam champion.”
The display in question came against Russia’s Igor Andreev, who doesn’t figure in the list of 32 seeds at Melbourne Park and has the misfortune of facing Roger Federer in the first round, but the quality of the opponent in the Hopman Cup didn’t matter too much. What was important was the manner in which Murray played and his determination to dictate from first ball to last. He wasn’t reserved and wasn’t prepared to get engaged in long baseline rallies while waiting for the opportunity to pounce. He was out there proving he was the boss on the court and he was going to dig the holes for the other guy to fall into.
Like so many others who know something about tennis, I had become frustrated by the Scot’s reluctance to go the whole way with his game. Perhaps it is wrong to say he has stood still but has he given himself the best chance with his approach? He is a potential Grand Slam champion but too often he has fallen short because he preferred to be reactive rather than proactive. He has always been a counter-puncher who waits for his opponent to make mistakes rather than taking the play to the man on the other side of the net, as I believe he could and should. Larry Stefanki devised a specific game plan for his player, Andy Roddick, in last summer’s Wimbledon semi-final, based on the theory that Murray was stuck in a rut of playing defensive tennis and needed to change his mentality if he wanted to win the big prizes. Stefanki said Murray needed to recognise when to play offence, needed to see the balls to attack, come into the forecourt and play there rather than 15 feet behind the baseline. He has the weapons but needs to learn how and when to use them.
Stefanki was spot on, as Roddick destroyed Murray in that semi-final. There were signs, in the Scot’s next tournament in Montreal, that he took heed, but the end of the year was a disappointment, too many games slipping through his fingers as he returned to his old ways.
Watching the first three of Murray’s victorious singles matches at the Hopman Cup, culminating in the 6-1 6-0 annihilation of Andreev, the signs could not have been better. Things reverted to type in the final against Spain, Murray slugging it out in long rallies. He appeared to have taken two steps forward and one back. If he wants to win majors, as I believe he can, he has to go on the offensive. He is now the best player who has not won a Grand Slam title, and this is his chance. Be brave, Andy.