Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Olympic Spotlight: What's Next for Team GB's Andy Murray?

After reaching four Grand Slam finals and leaving empty handed every time, there was a danger that Andy Murray could be written off as the also-ran of men’s tennis. However, his emphatic win over Roger Federer in this year’s Olympic tennis final has silenced the critics and won the hearts of a nation. With an impressive, straight sets victory at the home of U.K. tennis, Murray has proved that he has what it takes to be a champion. Could Andy Murray be reaching his peak just in time for the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow, which begins on 27 August 2012?

Autographed Andy Murray Photo - 8x10Murray’s confidence has to be high after his inspiring performance at the Olympics. Not only did he beat Federer in straight sets in the final, he had to overcome some impressive opponents en route. To qualify for the final, Murray had to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka (6-3 6-3), Marcos Baghdatis (4-6 6-1 6-4), number 11 seed Nicolás Almagro (6-4 6-1), and number two seed Novak Djokovic (7-5 7-5). A similarly remarkable run at Wimbledon saw Murray put out number five seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, number seven seed David Ferrer, and number sixteen seed Marin Čilić.

All the elements of Murray’s game seem to be coming together: physical, mental, and emotional. Murray credits his coach, Ivan Lendl, as a key influence in helping him to break free of the negative thought patterns that were hampering his performance. After his defeat by Federer in the Wimbledon final in July 2012, Murray turned to Lendl to help him use the experience to his benefit. The result of Murray’s positive mindset was evident in his convincing 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory over Federer on Centre Court in the Olympic final.

There is no doubt that Lendl is a tactical master, who has been helping Murray devise and commit to plans that have helped him overcome some of the biggest names in tennis. Murray receives briefings from Lendl during the evening prior to important matches. This enables the coach and player to work together to formulate tactics that will put points in the board. Lendl’s calming and stabilizing influence is apparent when you contrast Murray’s attitude during recent matches with his behavior one year ago. Gone are the teenage tantrums. Murray is clearly taking a calmer, more mature approach to his game. He seems better able to focus and harness his energy when calls go against him.

Lendl certainly seems to be the ideal role model for someone in Murray’s position. Lendl lost four Grand Slam finals before he finally secured his first Grand Slam title, at the French Open in 1984. He went on to secure another seven Grand Slam titles during the course of his tennis career. Lendl’s track record demonstrates that Murray’s current tally of runner-up places is by no means unprecedented. Nor is it a barrier to securing future Grand Slam victories.

Murray’s recent win over Federer will have swept away a huge mental block for the Scot. Federer has beaten Murray in all three of the Grand Slam finals in which they have met up till now. But, after his Olympic victory, Murray knows that he is capable of beating Federer. Murray’s increasing confidence and positivity could play in vital role if he wants to secure that elusive first Grand Slam victory at this year’s U.S. Open.

For Murray, this is certainly a year full of potential. With Rafael Nadal absent due to injury, Federer appearing tired after some tough games earlier in the season, and Djokovic playing inconsistently throughout the year, Murray’s odds of lifting the U.S. Open trophy have never been better.

Author Bio:
Guest post contributed by Charles Smith for HowLongSinceABritWonWimbledon.com - see here to find out. Charles is a freelance sports writer with a penchant for all things tennis. His articles appear on various online sports publications.

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