Murray Paradox

Andy Murray Shanghai Rolex Masters title

Andy Murray has been showing some incredible results lately, winning three tournaments in as many weeks, including ATP Masters 1000 Tournament in Shanghai. This is a milestone achieved by only a few players. By defending the title in Shanghai, the British number one officially became the third-ranked player in ATP, and is likely to finish the year on the third place.

Well, of course many will say that Shanghai Rolex Masters field was not very strong, due to the absence of red-hot Djokovic, always strong Federer, as well as Soderling and Del Potro, and after Nadal, Fish and several other top players were ousted in earlier rounds, yet it can’t be used as a reason to diminish Murray’s achievement, and the tremendous form he showed during the last three weeks. The Scott should only regret that the top form visited him two weeks after the last Grand Slam tournament of 2011 was over, and three months ahead of the Australian Open 2012.

And once again, there are some damned questions, which surfaced this week. Questions asked too many times and by everyone and their granny, and which Andy Murray is likely to be sick and tired of – why Murray can’t play in the same way during the final stages of Grand Slams? Murray has been in 9 finals of ATP World Tour Masters 1000, and won 8 of them, while he has been in 3 finals of Grand Slam tournaments, and got defeated 3 times, with all three defeats being more or less devastating. Moreover, in Masters finals he defeated the Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – many times, so what is changing, when he is playing them at Grand Slams?

Andy Murray reacts winning point

The best illustration of this paradox can be the last two matches played by Murray against Rafa Nadal. One of them was at this year’s US Open, where Murray lost the first set and run into hopeless negativism, so peculiar to him, and buried himself under pile of unforced errors. And though Murray showed some skills in the third set, in the end he was still looking like a victim. It was the fifth straight loss to Nadal for Murray, and third in a row at Grand Slams., and all of these matches had one and the same scenario – very close battle at the start, after which Nadal wins some crucial points, while Andy losses his heart. Though he makes efforts to come back, and can even win a set, the final result is obvious to everyone.

But when it came to ATP World Tour 500 tournament and Murray became another sort of player. Yes, he lost the first set as well, but in the second and third set Murray showed such a master-class performance that Nadal didn’t know where to hide, and I’m sure, even Djokovic didn’t played so well this season. So, what has changed? Murray is playing better now? Why can’t he play better when it is really needed? And how many of his Masters Titles he is ready to give for just one Grand Slam Title, if the Tennis Gods offered him such chance?

In Shanghai Murray showed the same game, which we saw in Bangkok and Tokyo. The aggressive play, for absence of which ( or lack of desire to show such play) Murray was criticized by anyone who ever watched him play, was there, but I was impressed the most by his willingness to switch from defense to attack.

If we can distinguish a feature, which united Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, it would be their rush to get from defense to attack in a second. When it seems that the next shot will be the last one, and the opponent will not reach it, these three players, even being penned in the corner, can make such a huge shot that the initiative in that point instantly goes to them – and it can happen during certain points, and even games, sets and the entire matches. Murray, in contrast, often clams up in his own tactical scheme, preferring only defensive play, or only attacking rarely, which works only when he is playing very well, like he did in the match against Nadal.

“Do you believe that great play demonstrated by Andy Murray in Asia raises his chances of winning a Grand Slam?” – instantly asked tennis.com. This is a rhetorical question, unfortunately. Andy Murray showed some very impressive play several times during his career, but all of them ended with nothing. This season is not over yet, and I can’t even suggest what will happen in January. If he wins the Masters Cup, it would be a magnificent finish of the season, but the worst thing is that the Masters Cup is held in London, and while Andy keeps denying that playing home is a source of bonus pressure, every barber knows that.

Andy Murray wins Shanghai title

At the end of the day, I believe that such questions are not good for both Murray and his fans – as too much pressure will not benefit to anyone. Andy played some outstanding tennis in Asia, and should it result in something important in the future, we will get to know that only when that future comes in. Bottom line, no-one knows what will happen in several months, and the ones, who say that they know – are lying.

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