Andy Murray is ‘risking a successful end to his illustrious career’ reveals analyst after Medvedev loss
After Andy Murray lost to Daniil Medvedev at the Miami Open the world’s leading tennis strategy analyst is concerned by aspects of the former world number one’s tactics
Tennishead’s long time friend Craig O’Shannessy, founder of BrainGameTennis.com, watched Andy Murray lose to Daniil Medvedev at the Miami Open and his in depth analysis for Tennishead of the reasons behind the disappointing result for the former British number one makes for absolutely fascinating reading.
Andy Murray needs to take on more risk. In fact, he is risking a successful finish to his illustrious career if he doesn’t.
I sat courtside today in Miami for Murray’s match against Daniil Medvedev and want to share my thoughts of studying his game from up close. Murray lost 6-4, 6-2, and very importantly, he was not able to generate a single break point. Here are five things that stood out to me from the match.
1. Andy Played Fine. That Was Part Of The Problem
Andy has been a defensive juggernaut throughout his career. He certainly plays some impressive offense as well, but the foundation of his game is built around being solid rather than constantly coming at you. As he looks to reignite his career after hip surgery, he would be wise to play bigger at the start of the point.
That didn’t happen nearly enough against Medvedev, who is simply a younger, faster, more resilient clone of himself. Murray needed to adjust his game because of that and ramp up more offense, but that didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong. His level was fine. It just wasn’t going to win the match.
2. Return And Attack
I watched Nick Kyrgios dismantle Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-0 here in Miami yesterday and the cornerstone of the victory was Kyrgios stepping well inside the baseline to rock 2nd serve returns. It worked in spades for the Aussie, as Rublev was given little time to prepare for his Serve +1 shot. Tommy Paul did the same thing in Indian Wells last week. Taylor Fritz attacked Rafael Nadal at will with pummeling 2nd serve returns in the Indian Wells final.
You could successfully argue Andy is a better returner than all those players, but he didn’t commit to having a red-hot crack at attacking 2nd serve returns. He stepped inside the baseline but didn’t give the ball the spanking it deserved.
For Murray to beat Medvedev, a focus point of attack is to really go after 2nd serve returns. Hit it hard. Hit it with authority and disrespect. Murray should have also hit several return approaches but didn’t. He could have also hit some return drop shots but didn’t.
3. Forehand Approach Down The Line
This worked well for Murray. It just didn’t happen nearly enough. A key pattern of play was to pull Medvedev wide to his forehand side and get a short forehand cross court back in return. Then Murray quickly moves forward and approaches with a forehand down the line to Medvedev’s running backhand. That often resulted in a lob that Murray dispatched. Medvedev won 13/20 at net, while Murray won 11/16. The Brit needed to be swarming the net. I think coming in close to 30 times in two sets sounds about right. For Medvedev to come in more than Murray is a strategic red light.
4. Murray’s Backhand Slice
Murray hit his backhand slice quite well in this match. He hit it almost always cross court to Medvedev’s backhand and it almost always came straight back to him. It was a good shot without a purpose. Was it meant to set up a run-around forehand? Was it meant to extract errors? Was it meant to be a low approach shot? It didn’t have a purpose and it didn’t hurt Medvedev at all.
5. Drop Shots
I liked this play a lot from Murray. This helped to disrupt the baseline exchanges where Medvedev was getting the upper hand. It brought Medvedev forward where he is not as comfortable. It threw a curveball into the match. With Medvedev standing so far back in general rally play, it was a great idea to yank him to the front of the court on a dead sprint.
Murray should have used it more. When Nadal defeated Medvedev recently in Acapulco and at the Australian Open, he used the drop shot extensively to attack Medvedev’s deep rally position. I would have really liked to see Murray use it a lot as the first shot after the serve (Serve +1 shot). It’s an ideal tactic vs. Medvedev as he stands in an extreme return location very deep behind the baseline to return. Nothing better than to make him run straight to the net from the back of the court.
Murray played well and competed well. It was an encouraging match, even though it was a loss. The problem for Murray is that he played the match the way he wanted to play it. Not how Medvedev didn’t want it. Murray can still win a lot of matches on tour disregarding the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent by just being solid on his side of the net.
Today was not one of those days.
He needs to come out of his comfort zone and play bigger. Play more aggressively. Take on some more risk returning serve. He likes to move the battle to the end of the rally. It’s way better for him to move it to the start and be the first player to throw a proverbial punch.
Craig O’Shannessy is the creator of Brain Game Tennis. For 20 years he’s been involved in tennis as a coach to players like Kevin Anderson and also with Dustin Brown when he famously beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon. More recently Craig’s been working as a match analyst at Wimbledon and for the ATP Tour. He has also used the unique insights from his match analysis software dartfish to guide players such as Novak Djokovic with analysis of opponents and performances.
Craig has been writing for Tennishead magazine for a number of years and is now working with us on this series of features aimed at using his statistical skills to help you improve your tennis game.
Visit BrainGameTennis.com to read the latest and best selling course called ‘Getting tight’ where Craig O’Shannessy and Jeff Greenwald combine their specific skill sets to help you with the universal problem all players struggle with in matches – Getting Tight.
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