Friday, April 8, 2011

Andy Murray Speaks...and other tennis news

by Savannah

After I posted yesterday's column I found this interview Andy Murray gave to the BBC. It does reveal more about what's going on in his head and is the kind of thing I said that Murray needs to do.

"After Australia, the night I lost in the final, I had a really long conversation with my mum and with Jez [Green, physical trainer] about what I felt I needed to work on," reveals Murray.
"Last year, there was no chance I was going to speak to anyone, whereas this year I felt like I was playing well, I was really disappointed with the final, but I knew the little things I wanted to improve on.

"Then it wasn't until maybe four or five weeks afterwards that I actually spent any time on court working on any of these things and, all of a sudden, it becomes a bit of a rush. You have like a week or 10 days to get ready for Indian Wells.

"It seemed like I was trying to do so many things - work on coming to the net, play a bit closer to the baseline, use the forehand down the line a bit more, step in on my backhand a bit more. All of these things I was thinking, going into the match, and you really need to go into a match with a clear mindset but it didn't really feel that way.
"It probably showed in my body language and my mental state. In Miami, I was getting more angry. In Indian Wells, I was just kind of lost. I wasn't really doing a whole lot on court. I need to get back to the basics of my game and I think I'll start playing well again soon."

Guidance is required and it will come in the form of a new coach, following the parting of the ways with Alex Corretja in March, but finding the right person could prove the biggest decision of his career to date.
In the meantime, Murray will call on coaches such as Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld, who are part of his sponsor Adidas's player development programme, until a permanent appointment is made.

Illustrious names like Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors have thrown their hat into the ring in recent days but the Scot is not the type to be star-struck.
"I'm looking for someone who can come to the big events with me, who isn't restricted in terms of the weeks they can do," explains Murray. "If they can't come to the French Open, for example, then for me that's quite a big negative. I'd like them to be around at the big events.

"For a lot of ex-players, it's easy to say, 'Yeah, I'd like to coach him,' but it's a big commitment and you can't just dip in and out of big events and spend two weeks with the player and not see them for six weeks. To me, communicating over the phone in sport doesn't really work. You need to spend quality time on the practice courts."
"I've heard people say that I don't listen," he states. "I spoke to Darren Cahill a lot in Miami and I was saying to him that I think questioning stuff is the way to improve things.
"He was saying that as a coach you can't have a good relationship with a player if you aren't able to ask the thorough questions, and he doesn't bother to ask you questions."
Having long since proved he can beat the very best - but with a Grand Slam title still eluding him - Murray should be the biggest prize out there for any top coach, but the job spec suggests the next appointment will need a thick skin.

"It shouldn't be a problem to disagree, it happens all the time," he says. "I'm sure many people have disagreed with me and I've disagreed with people. I think it's good to talk about it calmly. You should be able to discuss it and it's important the person has the confidence to explain to you why.

"I want to have someone I can have that good communication with so that, when you ask 'why', you get an explanation and can be shown - whether it's on video or on the court - why you might be doing something and how it's going to work. I think it's important you can see things visually. It can help a lot and it's something I haven't really done over the last couple of years.
"Once I started watching 10, 15, 20 minutes of video of myself over the last month, there are things I could pick up within minutes and think, 'I can't believe I was doing that.'"

"When it's necessary," he stresses. "It's important to have someone you have respect for and someone that doesn't take any crap. If you're getting away with mediocre sessions, it doesn't have to be screaming at you but it can be taking you to one side and explaining to you things aren't good.

"But if it takes screaming to get the best out of a player, you have to accept that."
And when the work stops, Murray will not expect his new coach to be thinking up pranks or keeping him entertained over dinner.

"The coach-player relationship is important off the court," he says. "I'm not saying they have to be comedians. You just need to get on well with them, but they don't have to be incredibly funny.
"That's definitely not one of the things I'm too worried about. It's about getting the best out of them when they're on the court."

If Fernando Verdasco's intention was to make it seem as if he were being kicked to the curb by the organizers of the Barcelona tournament I guess he succeeded. The tournament organizers have placed the following statement on the tournament's website.
The Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell organization explains that the name Fernando Verdasco does not appear on the players list of the tournament. The list was published a couple of weeks ago due to ATP regulations and defending champion Verdasco did not sign in. He still has the chance to participate in Barcelona if he accepts a wild card.

The tournament organization will reserve one invitation for the Spaniard and hope that he will defend his title in the Catalan capital. “We would be grateful if Fernando Verdasco came to play in Barcelona”, explained Real Club Tenis Barcelona president Albert Agustí, who has been surprised about the recent statement of the World No. 8.

Tournament director Albert Costa shares the same opinion and considers that all players who will participate at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell have been treated equally: “It’s a pity that Fernando is considering not to compete in Barcelona, but the only thing we can add is that we have treated the defending champion correctly at all times”.

LawnTennis is reporting that Venus Williams will attempt to rejoin the tour May 14. She is entered to play in Brussels.

A few years ago Marion Bartoli was ridiculed for saying it was difficult for her to go from being the hunter to the hunted. When I watch Samantha Stosur's match play of late Marion's words come to mind. I've said that her play has been underwhelming but she could not make a clear tennis decision during her match against Elena Vesnina. Stosur raced to a break lead and then disappeared from the match. She is ranked in the WTA top five. It's true that green "clay" is not European or South American red clay but there were high expectations for her in Charleston.

I couldn't find a stream but Sania Mirza is into the quarterfinals at Charleston defeating Sabine Lisicki in straight sets.

And don't get me started about Charleston's lack of television coverage. At least the cameras were on today so there were live streams available. I can watch the ATP Challenger at Monza from day one but I can't see a tournament a mere 6 hour drive away in the States.

There's been a lot of grumbling about Melanie Oudin's selection to the US Fed Cup team. With her recent play a good case can be made for Christina McHale's inclusion on the team.
Christina defeated veteran Daniela Hantuchova in Charleston 7-6(3), 6-1. As they say, film at eleven. That's a lot of pressure Maria Jose.


TennisAce said...

I am very happy for this interview with Murray. I may not like his game, but there is no doubt that the fellow is indeed talented. I think a coach/player relationship should be one of mutual respect. I think people need to look at the coaching relationships that have stood the test of time. Novak and his coach. Roger and his coach and Nadal and his coach. There is mutual respect with those 3 players and while some in the media would like to denigrate the efforts being made by certain coaches towards their players, at the end of the day, there has to be mutual respect on both sides.

When I used to see pics of Murray and his coach bathing together I used to wonder to myself, why do they feel the need to do stuff like that. It is so amateurish. I thought it was supposed to present Murray in a different light. For me, it does not matter what media image is presented of a player, if I don't like how you play on the court, then I will not be a fan. I don't care how humble, arrogant, or whatever the media makes you out to be. I watch tennis for the tennis. Murray has a whole lot of issues going on right now, one of which is that he thinks his talent should have taken him further than it has. He needs to realise that there are many other players on the ATP who are just as talented and even moreso than him and who put in the hard yards to get where they are. He should try that sometime.

I also agree with him about the coaching situation. Some of these retired guys just want one more look in the spotlight. Connors needs to go and sit down. He did nothing with Roddick's game, why does he think he can do anything with Murray?

TennisAce said...

As for Stosur, truer words were never spoken. Easy to be No. 30 in the world and chasing points to get to top 10. Get to top 10 and then you realise that you are now the hunted. The famous serve and forehand were nowhere in sight during yesterday's match against Vesnina. While I commend Vesnina for the win, there is no doubt that Stosur is a shadow of her former self.

Her backhand is still useless and she framed more shots yesterday than she made. One hopes that she will be able to get it together as she has a bit of points to defend during clay season.

jazzster said...

Murry needs a wakeup call. He continues with his temper tantrums and then blames everyone else for it. Spending only 10 days of training prior to IW?! He needs to grow up!

jazzster said...

Murray needs to stop drooling all over his so called talent. There are plenty of talent at the ATP level. Time is eclipsing fast. Tic toc, tic toc....

Savannah said...

Jazzster the part about his prep going into Indian Wells is what struck me the most about the interview. The BBC reporter didn't go after him about that lack of preparation and that surprised me.

There was the allusion to the temper tantrums and being cursed out in public by the reporter when he said the new coach would need a thick skin.

vw said...

Oracene likes to watch JJ

Oracene Price tweeted someone that you’re her favorite WTA player to watch apart from Venus and Serena. Did you know that?
JJ:No. Oh, that’s pretty cool. It’s obviously a nice thing to hear. Maybe they like me because I have some kind of personality or…I have no idea what’s the reason.

Maybe your personality reminds her of Serena?
JJ:We’re all unique in our own way. [laughs] I have no idea, but it’s nice to hear that.