Monday, 13 June 2011

Can Murray's Grass Court Season Get Even Better?

Earlier today, Andy Murray captured his second Queen's Club championship, with an impressive battling display against the fiery Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. This week has seen the completion of his road to recovery, with a first title of 2011. Having reached a first French Open semi-final only a week ago, this is in many ways one of the best periods of his career.

However, we have seen this before. Two years ago Murray also lifted the Aegon trophy, and carried on this form throughout Wimbledon, until Roddick blew him away in the semis.
There is so much to admire at the moment about Murray's game. His first serve is much more reliable and potent. He is much more aggressive, while still remaining solid defensively, yet the feeling lingers that over 5 sets against any one of Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic, he will retreat into his shell at key moments. Until he proves me and everyone else wrong, there is no point in getting overly carried away.

He must approach Wimbledon in a confident manner, and as number 4 seed anything less than a semi-final place will be must be viewed as a failure. Should he get to this point, which in his current form should be trouble-free enough, he would do well to remember what has got him to the latter stages of big tournaments in the first place. As one BBC commentator rightly stated, if he could bottle the form shown at Queens and take it to Wimbledon with him, that would be ideal. Andy Roddick was surely below par in the semis, but Murray's display will surely fill him with confidence heading into Wimbledon. As for the final, well Tsonga played a fantastic match. Murray was unable to break his serve until the decisive point of the final set, and on many individual points the Scot was blown off the court.

What won Murray this tournament was the ability to win key points. Towards the end of the second set, he looked shattered, and it looked as though a French victory was a formality. Yet when it really mattered, in the tiebreak situation, Murray won some important points, and this pattern continued into the final set, where he finally converted a break point at the 11th attempt. Even on the previous 10 occasions, he failed to break purely because his opponent was serving so well.

In previous tournaments, particularly Grand Slams, Murray would crumble when faced with a power player in red hot form. Perhaps this victory is a sign that he is now able to hang in there when the pressure is on, and play some breaktaking shots of his own. That is certainly what he did today, with an outrageous through-the-legs shot to make it 5-3 showing his supreme self-confidence.

There is not much more that Tsonga could have done to win the match, and in his post-match interview he seemed in awe slightly that his efforts were not enough. Murray has been in that position enough times to know what that feeling is like, and maybe he is finally ready to make a leap worthy of Tsonga's on-court acrobatics, and take that first Grand Slam crown.

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