Since 2004 when Andy Murray rose to prominence by winning the Junior US Open aged 17, the Scot has been touted by tennis champions to achieve great things. He has had to develop a thick skin and learn from comments and mistakes which have been magnified and thrown out of context, he has had to understand and appreciate support and attention rather than detesting it and he has had to learn to deal with excessive pressure and the expectations of a nation. At the age of 23 he has accomplished all of this, in addition to a lucrative career in tennis which has seen him rise to the number 2 spot in the world, win 14 career titles (including four Masters 1000 titles) and amass an astounding $11m in prize money alone. However, for all these fantastic achievements, there is one thing missing; the one thing that would lift him into the Tennis Hall Of Fame, the one achievement that would command respect and elicit fear among rivals and challengers – a Grand Slam Title.
Tennis ‘experts’ and fans have forever maintained that it is only a matter of time before Andy Murray wins his first Grand Slam. At 6ft4, not only does his frame allow him to hammer down 130mph service bombs at will, but his incredible athletic ability has him powering around the court, able to track down balls that most tennis players wouldn’t stand a chance against. Much more than his athletic ability though, is the variety he possesses in his game – the slices, the dropshots, the delicate feel at the net and the resourcefulness he utilizes on the defence. His backhand is widely seen as one of the best and most technically perfect in his game, and likewise his ability to read opponents’ serves and return so many into play is also well-documented. This is what has elevated Andy Murray into an elite player and this is why many people are such firm believers in the idea that the Scot will one day become a Grand Slam Champion.
For all of his strengths, over the years many holes have appeared in the 23-year-old’s game. These include his typically low first serve percentage, his forehand which is highly prone to breaking down and his short second serve which is far too often exploited by aggressive and powerful opponents. Many supporters have been quick to highlight the probability of him improving these technical flaws and them coming together one day when he is on the verge of greatness. However, it is the mental and emotional side of Murray which could ultimately hold him back. We have seen the combination of his naturally defensive mentality, his hot-headed temperament and his lack of mental strength compared with the likes of Nadal, Del Potro and even Djokovic prove fatal in his two defeats to Roger Federer in his two Slam Finals. Moreover, when he has reached the latter rounds of Grand Slam events it has become excruciatingly obvious that Murray just doesn’t have the firepower to outplay an opponent performing at that level. And with Rafael Nadal edging closer and closer to the form that saw him the dominant figure between 2008 and the beginning of 2009 – will he ever?
Andy Murray certainly has an abundance of talent and ability and of course he is in with a massive chance of finally winning a Grand Slam in the near future, but any Grand Slam win will be based on circumstance and things that are out of his control. For example, how long Federer continues to play at the elite level of tennis, whether Nadal becomes a dominant figure for a sizable amount of time, whether Del Potro will recover to the level of play he showed in 2009 post-wrist injury, whether Djokovic will find his serve and confidence and even whether any younger players will push through and shake up the very top of the game. It is completely in the air either way but whatever does happen, the next few years are shaping up to be an intriguing and exciting chapter of ATP tennis history.
Written by Foot Fault via