Andy Murray Presser: I Didn’t Return Well Today, That Was The Difference
by Staff | April 2nd, 2012, 9:50 am
  • 15 Comments

Andy Murray tried for a second straight victory this season over Novak Djokovic, but the Scot fell short losing 6-1, 7-6 to the World No. 1 in the Sony Ericsson Open Miami final.

Murray, who beat Djokovic in Dubai last month, entered the final under unusual circumstances after receiving not one but two walkovers, from Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal.

Q. It’s been kind of an odd tournament all around, hasn’t it? You not playing as many matches as you thought you probably would. How did you feel going into the final today? Fully up for it and ready to go?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I felt up for it, no question about that. It could have taken me whenever, a couple of games to get used to sort of the pace of the rallies and stuff, but, yeah, I was up for it.
I mean, if you look at the start of the match, you know, the game where I got broken, I was up 40 Love in the game and had game points and then I had a break point point in the next game and then another long game after that.
You know, there was three or four long games there, all deuce games, that I had the chance to win and didn’t. That was the difference in the first set, and then the second set was much closer.
I didn’t return well today, which is normally one of the best parts of my game. That was the difference, in my opinion.

Q. Did you feel sluggish at all? At times it looked like you were a little bit sluggish. Perhaps it was just frustration.
ANDY MURRAY: Um, no, I didn’t feel sluggish. Like I was saying, maybe it take took a few games to get used to the pace, but after, you know, the first few games I mean, there was a lot of close games in the first set. He played better on the big points in the first set.
In the second set, it was a very close set. It was like an hour and 30 minutes, hour and 40 minutes for one set of tennis. I mean, if I was sluggish and I was only a couple of points away from winning the set, I’d say that’s a very good sign because playing against the best player in the world.
You know, if it appeared that way, then I didn’t feel like I was on the court.

Q. You said in Australia that you felt the gap was closing. Two months along, do you feel that’s still the sort of direction you’re headed?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I beat him once in Dubai comfortably and lost to him, which I thought you know, I’m sure he’ll say the same thing. Second set was incredibly close and could have gone either way, I think.
You know, after that who knows? But, yeah, I mean, I feel like I’m a lot closer than I was at this stage last year. At the end of the match I was able to dictate a lot more of the points, which I wasn’t doing early on in the match.
Yeah, if I had returned better today, which normally is the best part of my game, maybe it was because I didn’t play for a few days. I have no idea, but if I had returned a bit better, I think I would have been right in the match.
That’s the only thing that I’m surprised that I didn’t do well, because it’s normally the strongest part of my game.

Q. Is it hard for you that it seemed like in the longer rallies you easily held your own, perhaps won more of the longer rallies than he did.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I think once I got myself into the rallies, it was, you know, it was good. It was a lot of long points, a lot of close games.
Once I got into longer rallies, I felt fine. It was a very hot day, tough conditions for both of us.
Um, yeah, I mean, it was not getting into enough of his service games because I missed too many returns. You know, if I was able to get into more longer rallies on his service games, then maybe it would have been a different result in the second set.
But because I missed a lot of returns, second serve returns, I didn’t return them that way well, that’s it. That’s the difference when you play against the top players.

Q. What makes him so good? Why is he so tough to beat?
ANDY MURRAY: Ah, well, he’s very I mean, he moves very well, hits the ball solid from both wings.
I mean, he doesn’t have many holes in his game. So therefore, when you play against him, it takes, you know, normally six, seven, eight shots, like 15 , 16 shot rallies to, you know, to win a lot of points.
You have to be very patient, pick your moments to go for the right shots. That’s why he’s been so good the last 18 months to a year.
He was exceptional before then, but he’s playing better tennis with more confidence and not making that many errors.

Q. Apart from the return, was there anything of your original game plan that you didn’t manage to execute?
ANDY MURRAY: Um, maybe early on in the match I made too many mistakes, beginning of the rallies. You need to extend the rallies against him, and I didn’t at the beginning of the match.
That’s the one thing I would have liked to have done better early on, but, you know, for whatever reason I didn’t do that.
Once I did, I had way more success in the second set and was, you know, very close to winning.

Q. In the second set, there were a couple occasions where you caught your toss and then you double faulted, which turned out to be the difference in the tiebreaker. Was there anything going on at that point?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it’s very sunny on the far end of the court when you walked on, so you have to adjust your ball toss often for that. Sometimes it’s coming in and out of the cloud. It’s difficult for everybody.
You know, Novak didn’t catch any ball tosses, but he hit a few serves way long or right in the base of the net, because it’s very tough to see when you’re basically it’s like you have a light bulb right in your face. It’s not easy to serve.

Q. Did that contribute at all to your double faulting, do you think?
ANDY MURRAY: Double faulting? I wouldn’t have thought that was I don’t think that made the difference in the match, no.


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15 Comments for Andy Murray Presser: I Didn’t Return Well Today, That Was The Difference

Steve 27 Says:

Murray you played bad, you didn’t try like in Australia, I hope this months with Lendl help you to play with a better forehand and without mental resignation.


serbian hammer Says:

Reasons are;Djokovic was better ,Murray played well.Both of them were not at 100%,and that is about that.


Dave Says:

Was Murray undercooked? Since Dubai to before the Miami final, Murray spent only 7 hours and 20 minutes on court during back-to-back Masters 1000 series events (due to two walkovers from Raonic and Nadal in Miami, as well as his ‘first round’ exit in Indian Wells). Seven hours of four matches over the past one month playing only against Garcia-Lopez, Falla, Simon and Tipsarevic does not prepare a player to beat Djokovic, Federer or Nadal. In the same period, the battle-hardened Djokovic spent 18 hours and 11 minutes on court playing 10 opponents.

Yet Murray still managed to push match sharp Djokovic in the second set despite not being match sharp. Novak was fortunate that rusty Murray made 39 unforced errors — many while not even under pressure — and had a mediocre first-serve percentage of only 55% with three double faults at wrong times. Murray’s 29% return game was a pale shadow of his 42% return game against Djokovic in Dubai — and similar to his 29% return game against the superior server Roger Federer in Dubai.

I feel this lack of match practice explains Steve Tignor’s analysis of Murray’s performance: “As for Murray, he was more risk-averse than he’d been when these two played in Melbourne. He was content to rally for much of the match, without trying to create or put himself in winning positions. It took him until very late, too late it would turn out, before he let loose with his forehand—a shot that he and his coach, Ivan Lendl, have been trying to beef up—and tried to dictate with it. Whether it was due to the three days off that he had after his walkover in the semis or not, Murray was flat and passive for much of this one, and served poorly—the two shots that helped Novak, the serve and forehand, weren’t there for Murray. Even Murray’s vaunted return game suffered, as he earned just two break points today.”

Murray was not match sharp and looked patchy through much of the match against the battle-hardened Djokovic. Andy needed the first set as match practice just to start getting competitive in the second set. But other than flashes here and there of what tactics he and Lendl had prepared for the match, Murray just wasn’t able to implement his game plan consistently even in the second set.

Had Murray showed up with his ‘A Game’, Djokovic might have been beatable. Or at least the match would have been more entertaining. (Federer win over Murray in Dubai was more convincing — and at least Roger played more entertaining tennis in that match)


jack haworth Says:

the usual problem low 1st serve percentage.with a65-70%1st serves in at 125 m.p,h,instead of45-50%and the occasional134m.p.h.and many 2nd serves around 80-85 m.p.h.he can beat anyone.


Superhuman Says:

Hi Dave, do you think that Novak was undercooked last FO when he had pause of 4 days and then had to play game ready Roger?


Ben Pronin Says:

If Murray had played better, who’s to say Djokovic wouldn’t have raised his game?


mat4 Says:

@Dave:

Stats do lie sometimes. Your analysis is biased for most of it.

First, about the UE. You note the number of Andy’s UEs, but how many did Novak make? If I remember well, there wasn’t a huge difference. Two of the best retrievers were playing on a slow court where it is difficult to break through: it is quite usual that the number of UEs is superior to the number of winners.

Murray wasn’t under pressure? Oh, yes, he was, in two ways at least. First, Novak plays very deep, changing the direction, the speed, the spin of the ball each and every time. He almost never hits the same ball twice in a row. Some years ago I was confused by the fact that Novak’s opponents were making a lot of UEs, but when I realised that it was almost always the case (Rafa excepted), I finally understood why. On the contrary, I think that Andy fared quite well in the second set, because usually he makes more UEs against Novak. Novak makes his opponents lose ugly.

The second point was that Novak’s serve worked well. He has been working a lot on the precision of his first ball lately, and that allowed him to easily win his service games. I was at first shocked that Andy, who should have been prepared for this match, didn’t notice it, but then I understood that he was speaking about second serves return. That’s where he made some unusual errors, but they weren’t many. So Andy couldn’t make an impression on Novak’s serve, and was a bit tense on his. He was lucky to save all four break points he faced in the second set.

About the serve percentage: Murray is always serving at about 55% of first serve. He hits the ball hard and usually gets a free point. But, you perhaps noticed it, Novak moved a bit on the left when returning, and Andy couldn’t make an impression with his favourite serve on the backhand, so he had to change his spots, and it didn’t work quite well neither most of the time.

“Had Murray played his A game…” What is Murray’s A game? In 2008 and 2009 he won against Novak playing that same game. (He served better in Dubai, but Novak changed his court positioning, and it had an obvious impact on the serve.) He plays a different game against Rafa, but he has no choice. When you compare his H2H against Roger and Novak with the one against Rafa, you see that he has much more success against players that take risks and create the game. His A game is to retrieve ball after ball and to wait for a mistake. Yesterday, Novak was just patient enough, he was in better shape than in Dubai, and the result was known from the beginning.

We keep speaking about Andy’s talent, potential… Come on! He has 25 years. He had the best coaches money can buy. It is time to accept the truth: though he has an excellent technique, an exceptional speed, a rare tactical intelligence, he lacks a global vision of the game that makes Roger, Rafa and Novak the three best players in the last ten years. His last adjustments are just a proof for this: he started talking about breakthrough when Novak made his move, he change his diet after Novak changed his, he hired a Czech coach because Novak has a Slovak coach… It would have be funny if it wasn’t a bit tragic.


jane Says:

The thing is that neither of them were playing their best, so you can’t simply say Muzza wasn’t playing his best in the second set, because neither was Nole. His level actually dropped from the first set, whereas Murray’s level came up. For example, Nole has the highest break point conversion rate of the top four guys, both last year and this year so far – with Nadal after him, then Murray, then Fed (doing top 4 only). Yet in the second set Nole had at least 5 bp chances that he didn’t convert. That’s unusual for him and if we’re going by stats it suggests he, too, wasn’t playing his best. Throughout the tournament he lost focus after the first set, except perhaps versus Baggy. So it was a pattern of coming out strong and then dropping a level or two. But he did still manage to win without dropping a set, which I think actually bodes well. On the flip side, Murray could have come out stronger and then their final might’ve been more like the AO or like Cincy 08 where only a couple of points separated them in the end.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

You already were here. I am rewatching the match and I have to admit that sometimes, arguing, I am really unjust toward Andy. He tried to be aggressive with his FH, to create. He wasn’t just waiting. But Novak played with more angles than in Australia, so Andy couldn’t really be more offensive.


jane Says:

mat4, Yeah I notice Nole’s angled forehands. I think Nole’s forehand and serve were just more consistent perhaps. Do you have a link to the match or did you record it?


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWvz_EiATfw

Nole avoided to play directly on Andy’s FH, and Andy almost didn’t manage to hit a flat FH.

There was a shift in Nole’s game against Andy from last year. In Australia 2011, he played often deep balls right on his FH hoping for errors. It worked. But at the AO 2012, Andy reacted well and hit a lot of excellent FH in such position. So, Nole mixed more yesterday, especially with the depth and speed of the ball (more than the spin). Andy often made errors on “soft”, shorter balls.

Then, it was a good match, much better than I thought yesterday. They had a lot of problems with the heat, with the sun when they served, and Gore and Koenig mentioned that they took advantage of the sun playing high balls.

Nole served very well in the second set. Andy served more on Nole’s FH. Compare the positioning when returning the serve. Nole a bit on the left; Andy started far from the baseline in the first set, to finish much closer, stepping in the court for the second serve.


Humble Rafa Says:

You should also consider that Mr. Lady Forehand is a Master Choker on big occasions. He simply can’t perform when it counts.

“I didn’t return well” is a more politically correct answer than “I choked”.

It is tough for mental midgets to win big titles in men’s tennis. But it is possible on the women’s side. Since the Master Choker’s forehand clearly belongs in the women’s game, he should consider changing things to compete with the women.


jane Says:

Thanks for the link mat4 – I’ll definitely watch it again. Did you know that when he won the Miami title in 2007, Nole was actually the last ATP player to win a Masters final in the best of 5 format? It’s true, he had to play best of five for the title. And he was the youngest champion in Miami i think. Anyhow I didn’t know that was the last final best of 5 in a Masters.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

When you open this link, you will see that the same poster has posted the whole match Djokovic – Ferrer. I propose that you rather watch the first set of this match. This is the game Nole wants to play: excellent serve, good transition, great volleys… His best set this year.


mat4 Says:

@Humble:

It is interesting. Andy served quite well when he had to, except in the tie-break. He can be a bit too tense. Is he a chocker? I believe that Lendl was a bigger choker, and I don’t understand why he hired him.

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