Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Congrats to Andy Murray on winning the tennis US Open

Hearty congratulations go to Andy Murray on winning his first Grand Slam -- and to his coach, tennis great Ivan Lendl, who helped Murray on his path to a Grand Slam Championship.  In some ways, both Murray's and Lendl's stories -- are about how different people find their ways to championships in different ways.
Some champions have an easier route to success, but we're sure Andy Murray's U.S. Open win is very sweet to Murray and his camp.

In our blog, we often talk about championship characteristics such as "mental toughness" and confidence.  Murray followed his Olympic Gold Medal with this Grand Slam -- and this added confidence will only make Murray a tougher opponent for the current tennis triumvirate of Federer, Nadal & Djokovic.  Tennis fans are in for a treat because every major tournament now has at least four legitimate contenders.  Back in June, the NY Times had a good article on Murray and Lendl -- that was both prescient about the potential for success -- but was also questioning:

Tennis’s new odd couple flew back to Florida and put in two hard weeks in Delray Beach, and in his next semifinal encounter with Djokovic in the Dubai Duty Free tournament, Murray beat him soundly. The next day in the finals, however, he was smoked by Federer. The following week, still deflated, he lost his first match at Indian Wells in California, and by the time I caught up with Murray and Lendl at the next tournament, the Sony Ericsson in Key Biscayne, the sudden improvement was looking like the spike medical researchers find when the control group is given a placebo.

“Whenever there’s a new relationship,” says Todd Martin, who worked with Djokovic for eight months in 2009 and 2010, “hope springs eternal. This is the girl for me. This is the coach for me. I’ve picked the right college. But eventually reality sets in.” 

On Andy Murray's style:

In the era of power tennis, tactical niceties can seem obsolete. A player bangs his serve, runs around his backhand and whales away with his forehand until his opponent submits — and the prototype for this brute style was Lendl himself, who bludgeoned rivals with his one-off Adidas racket as if he were clubbing baby seals.

Murray, an avid boxing fan and admirer of the great counterpuncher Floyd Mayweather Jr., disdains haymakers. Instead of going toe to toe — or as Murray says, “flat, flat, flat” — he subjects his opponent to an unsettling mix of topspin and slice, hard and soft, low and high, angle and depth. As his mother puts it pithily, “Andy messes them about.”

In today's game of professional tennis, Lendl says:

“Tennis,” he told me later, “is basically a game where you try to create an opportunity for yourself to finish the point, because you can’t wait for the opponent to miss anymore. Well, if you create an opportunity and don’t take advantage of it, you let the opponent back to even, then you are just starting the point over, so you have to take advantage of them.”

On how Lendl could help him, Murray said:

“He was at the top of the game for a while before he broke through,” Murray says. “He knows about all that stuff. That was the other thing — he understands and is very sympathetic, whereas a lot of people aren’t.”

The NY Times article can be found here: