Is Andy Murray finished?
I certainly hope not even if his Oz open performance was extremely poor. Some of his other recent performances against Dimitrov and de Minaur where he lost in tight 3 sets showed a level of tennis not too far away from a top 10 player. Dimitrov went on to win the tournament and de Minaur has since beaten Djokovic and become a top 10 player himself! Andy has stated that he is searching for a calmer mentality but I'm not sure that's the answer to his problems.
My solutions for Andy Murray to get back on track are as follows:
1/ Take on the forehand more even if he misses - get used to hitting it harder in practice and take this conviction on to the match court. I remember when Federer finally agreed to change racquet and a slight grip change which allowed him to come over the backhand more often instead of slicing all the time. Initially he made a lot of errors, but eventually it paid off when he beat Rafa in the Oz Open final of 2017. A tough thing to do but he felt it was necessary to compete at the highest level and run less when playing Rafa! Novak hits his forehand harder now than 10 years ago (the recorded stats don't lie!). It may well be a slight technical change, more conviction or a mix of both which could make the difference.
2/ A difficult one but find a solution to more 1st serves going in the box - a mix of safe ones and going for the boomer at certain times. An improvement in first serve percentage could help enormously.
Attack the 2nd serve more too and use the slider wide on deuce court and t ball on ad more often like Novak does as Andy's kick isn't always good enough. His slice 2nd serve is more effective.
3/ If the loss to Etcheverry is anything to go by then being calm isn't the solution - Murray has always used negative energy and changed it to positive energy - it doesn't need to be pretty as he has spent a lifetime of being a pain in the butt on court but used this energy to compete well.
Murray needs to look at areas he can be better/braver in, or the ever developing game will go by him. He doesn't have the quickness anymore to defend like he used to so I see no option other than being more pro active.
I would imagine that he is well aware of this but would love to know what the goals are as he seemed a bit lost in the post match conference. Tennis is such a difficult game which just keeps evolving and is the reason why Novak, Federer and Nadal have done so well as they kept improving throughout their career.
I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on how Andy can improve on the match court?
Kyrgios commentating plus spat with Becker
Who would have thought that one of the game's most unpredictable and emotionally erratic players would turn up on Eurosport wearing a jacket and come across as a mild mannered, intelligent pundit/commentator? It certainly is interesting to hear from a player's perspective what it's like to play these guys and I'm looking forward to hearing more of mild mannered Nick in the commentary box.
However, his recent online spat with Boris Becker maybe shows his true colours and the other less intelligent side. Nick states that Becker would lose badly to Novak and therefore has less credibility as a legend. This is just a nonsense argument in my view. The greats of any era are just that, the greats of their time. In athletics, records get broken all the time but it doesn't detract from the greats of another era like Jesse Owens and many others. The legends of any era arrive at the top of the pack using the cards that are dealt at that point in history. Athletes continue to evolve in all sports due to advancements in sports science, technique and equipment plus a greater understanding of the mental skills required to even attempt to compete at the highest level.
If Becker had been born in the current era his serve would be even bigger as would the rest of his game, but his ability to focus and compete in the important moments would stand him in good stead in any era. Even though Kyrgios has had some great moments, the ability to dedicate himself to the sport and overcome mental frailties have always escaped him. He is like the many talented footballers in Scotland's history who had the raw talent but were never able to dedicate themselves to the sport like the greats of Pele, Ronaldo or Messi. (Apart from King Kenny of course and one or two others). Dalglish for the non football fans.
Good luck to Nick in his new pundit life but I only hope he gets challenged by Wilander or Henman if he strays too far from a real understanding of tennis greats or any other not so clever comments.
Mirra Andreeva - the new one to watch
We mentioned her as one to watch for 2024 but her 6-2 6-0 destruction of Jabeur has really put her on the map and is the first 16 year old since Gauff to win a round in all the slams. Now she is to face Sabalenka who may well be stressed into even louder grunts than normal? Certainly a match to watch.
Raducanu v Boulter possible 3rd round match
Now this would be very interesting if they get through their next round as a battle of the Brits which has been rare in recent times with British girls at this level.
Draper v Tommy Paul and hopefully v Alcaraz later?
Really looking forward to this one and a possible match with Carlito later on but one match at a time I know! Best of luck to Jack and hopefully no more projectile vomiting. No need for that really.
Ostapenko v Tomljanovic
2021 Wimbledon spat! - click HERE
This could be very interesting after the match at Wimbledon in 2021 when they totally fell out. Ostapenko is an extremely fiery competitor and not everyone's favourite player on the tour so let's see what happens?
Sinner - the man to beat in my opinion
Not a huge gamble I know but I'm taking Sinner to make his slam breakthrough and win the Oz Open. Novak has already had 2 tough matches and Jannik is cruising so far. He is ready and good enough to beat anyone.
The GOAT discussion continues....
I'm just loving it that Rafa is getting involved in the GOAT discussion (greatest of all time) backed by the oracle, Mats Wilander, who is calling Novak the BOAT (best of all time). It would appear that they both agree that the influence Federer has had in the promotion of tennis qualifies him as the GOAT and they would say that Djokovic is no question the BOAT. Strangely enough, I can't imagine that Novak will be so comfortable with this idea?? Rafa sticking out his neck like this only makes for an even better French open final in 2024 between the two of them!
All comments welcome, Ian