Andy Murray: Stuck in Neutral By Choice

Andy Murray Leaving Armstrong Stadium
Ahhhh, one of those days. Since the little thing called US Open starts at an awful time of 1 in the AM for me, I actually catch my fix of the open in the evening. I just completed a manuscript that I have been working on quite literally non-stop, the past 50 days. I am also submitting it to one of the top journals in the discipline, hence at best I have fighting chance (I need some luck, kiss me …). I finally completed it last evening. And hence this is my hibernation week.

Hence was out of the lab at 17.15 and home in time to catch Murray.

There is a lot at the periphery, and Murray himself plays rope-a-dope a lot, given the fact that he loves boxing. The leaded heaviness in the legs is as much a function of the kind of day he had at the office, more than the legs themselves.
The “who the hell stole my lunch” look did not help – as Wally Masur and Roger Rasheed went on and on about his body language and attitude. But that’s the way he deals with adversity, he likes to deflect and (at the time on court) attribute it to something physical, so that he can play without any pressure. The NY crowd did not like his attitude, but that's the least of his problems.
That’s his defense mechanism, there is nothing wrong with that – we all have our own.

But the problem of why he lost was not because he looked downright ghastly on court. It was two: and two that we already know. First and foremost – that forehand, and secondly the “defensive” counterpunching.
Wawrinka in his quest to conquer Murray went all the way in embracing ‘net hugging’. He came in more times than probably during this entire year. Time and again, he waited for that cross court forehand pass from Murray to volley into the open court. Nine times out of ten he was waiting at the right place, Murray does not pass down the line on his forehand wing, or at least he does not like to as much as he should have.

And secondly, the elephant in the room which we have discussed time and again: the ever-annoying defensive counterpunching. Watch the rallies, you can notice M’Andy tirelessly hitting those ¾ paced trackers and those high loopy balls. It’s ineffective to the point of throwing a huge glass bowl at the television screen. You almost want to slap him and send him home.

And it’s not like he does not know how to, or cannot pull the trigger. He can, and he did – and when? At 2-4 0-30 in the fourth set. He pulled out two return missiles from his backhand wing that left Wawrinka motionless on the baseline. Flat, fast and lethal.

For his part Stan kept it simple: he was solid and attacked at every opportunity, and when he got a chance took the offense to Murray from the ground. Murray did not even push him to up the risks, if anything Wawrinka played within the risk margin.

Murray eventually got caught between needing to transition to offense by needing to go against his innate instinct. More than once he would be in control of the point from the ground, only to throw in a drop shot (which hardly worked the entire evening) rather than pull the trigger off the ground. Leaves you wondering if he can change something that’s very innate?
Murray keeps leaving the door open to too many first strike players, whom he has no business losing to. Join the list: Verdasco, Gonzo, R’Andy, Cilic, Berdych and now … Wawrinka. The forehand was acceptable at best and ineffective at worst. The defensive counter attack was a neutral strategy at best, and is akin to waiting for a dynamite to explode. How often do dynamites not explode?
If it does not, you win, that’s great. But how often do dynamites not explode?
Seven times, out of seven?   

Come ON, Andy … What's that ol' Metallica tune: "You pretend it doesn't bother you, but you just wanna explode'

--- Keep Rockin, Long John Silver


  1. It is awfully maddening. Especially when you write articles saying that winning is something he has a distinct chance of doing. A mistake I'll not make again.

    What's it going to take to change his state of mind, I wonder? Two US Opens in a row now that he has sorely disappointed.

  2. a very very very tough coach, who will NOT accept his 'comfort play' of borderline def-based CP .

    Its so annoying I almost wanted to yell at him ... he has so much game and sometimes he spoilt for choices, but i dont think its easy to change this mate - this is innate.

    Killer ? L'Stef ?

  3. great great match between Sam and Elena - did you see that ? pin drop silence on Ashe