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Why hasn’t Murray won the US Open yet?

It’s his best surface, he had a great pre-season (defeating Nadal + Federer without dropping a set) and he’s reached the final before (2008) , this year the signs have become more and more clearer on why Murray isn’t winning.

Since reaching the 2008 US Open Final, Andy Murray has reached the fourth round and this year, the third round.  After such a brilliant run to the final in 2008, upon defeating a motivated Nadal (who had won 2 Majors that year), he was beaten by Federer in the final. He could pass this off as a lack of experience, but when he was beaten next year by Cilic, there wasn’t much focus on Murray failing as much as Cilic being brilliant and finally showing his true potential; in retrospect, the signs have always been there on Murray’s shortcomings.

Why did Murray lose to Wawrinka?

There are at certain parts of any match against Wawrinka, or other fellow talented aggressive baseliners, where the player will start hitting some spectacular winners, this can be attributed to being “in the zone”, when you feely fully confident, so confident that you don’t even think of confidence, you know it. Aggressive baseliners are dangerous here, but usually they start making unforced errors from getting too confident, the opponent starts serving better and their rhythm and confidence, as a consequence, is broken.

This didn’t happen to Wawrinka, he was constantly “in the zone”, playing some superb tennis all through-out. You can attribute this to his new coach (Lundgren) , who maybe has taught Wawrinka how to “stay” in the game more; how to mentally approach the game, how to have the champion mindset (see previous article).

Why did Murray lose? His first serve wasn’t going in enough. When it was, it wasn’t accurate or powerful enough, so he lacked a lot of free points, which made his job much harder than he needed it to be. His forehand always looks mediocre at the start of a major, but his backhand wasn’t fully utilised in the match; he didn’t hit enough inside-out or enough down-the-line backhands, which he did against Federer in Toronto, and as a result, won the match.

Murray didn’t need to be more aggressive, he didn’t need to hopelessly ball-bash; this would have gone completely against his game, he needed to just briefly change the direction of his shots. Time after time, he hit backhand’s cross-court to Wawrinka’s backhand, rally shots in general, when he could have flattened it out down the line to Wawrinka’s forehand, causing a forced error. This is more aggressive -> but not in the traditional sense of changing his defensive mentality to a “gung ho” approach.

Change?

Federer has dropped a superb drop-shot in recent years, Nadal has developed a better serve in just the space of 2 months after changing the grip a little bit, Roddick enjoyed a superb 2009 through-out being fitter, the message here is change is possible for some players, but others, do not change. Djokovic, after winning his sole major has plateaued, if he loses to Federer in the upcoming US Open 2010 semi final, he will have lost to the same player in the same tournament for FOUR years in a row.  Djokovic hasn’t improved a lot in the space of 3 years, which is a huge disappointment. Yet he isn’t the only one.

Murray is similar, he doesn’t seem to be able to adopt, to change, to learn how to more winners to make his matches more easier, how to have a champion mindset, how to keep his first serve percentage up. Results at the majors this year, prove this. Did he learn from the trashing Federer gave him in the US Open 2008 final? No, Murray received a similar one this year in Australia; the second set in particular had a striking statistic; Federer had break points in every Murray service game bar 1.

Will Murray Win?

Yes, Andy Murray will win a major, the surface could be anything (probably not Roland Garros), but the striking factor will be this; when Murray wins the major, he won’t have faced a Federer, a Nadal or a Roddick in the quarters, semis or finals. He will play the likes of Djokovic, Soderling, Berdych, who will have done the hard-work to take out the more dangerous players. Murray will essentially, as Andre Agassi did on numerous occasions, win from having an easy draw. He won’t beat a Federer or a Nadal in a Wimbledon or a US Open Final – but that’s because he won’t need to. The draw will have done it for him.

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