Murray may never find magic French formula … but so what?

May 29, 2009

murrayDefine the perfect claycourt tennis player.

How about: The patient counter puncher who’s happy to trade blows from the baseline until his opponent makes an error then pounces with an angled drive or pinpoint passing shot.

But hang on a sec … Couldn’t that describe Andy Murray’s game? The player whose passive style has brought so much success on hardcourts and yet the same man who looks about as at home on a clay court as I do on the Cresta Run?

A month ago Murray looked a world beater, cruising to another Masters Series win in Miami but, predictably enough, the move to the European clay season has seen his aura tainted. Suddenly, everyone has got their chance against him and unrealistic expectations are playing into their hands.

Murray, who played the formative years of his tennis education on the red dust of Barcelona, doesn’t yet have the game to go deep into the second week at Roland Garros and seems to me he is putting too much pressure on himself.

McEnroe, Sampras and so far even Federer never found the magic formula to succeed on clay so Murray shouldn’t worry himself unduly. Amazing what can be achieved by relaxing and being a loose cannon rather than being a tall poppy for people to take aim at.

He’ll bag all the rankings points you can shake a stick at in the autumn and is already close to a place in the end-of-season Masters Cup in London.

Murray should relax, chip and charge, serve and volley, mix it up as much as he likes. If the wins come, so be it. If not, no one will remember a lack of success in Paris but will recall the heights he looks certain to ascend in Melbourne, SW19 and Flushing Meadow.

PHOTO: Andy Murray of Britain returns the ball during training at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 26, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning


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Or to put it another way, Define the perfect clay court tennis player. Rafael Nadal.

Posted by Jamesy | Report as abusive

Well, yes. I get the feeling all the players can relax and dampen expectations while Nadal is in. Hard to see anyone winning it unless he’s injured.
Wimbledon might be another story.

Posted by kevin | Report as abusive

Not sure you can criticise Federer and say he has never found the magic formula to succeed on clay when he has won eight titles on the surface and reached three french open finals?

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive