What next for Andy Murray, Britain’s coach-less No1?
Whilst the tennis world celebrates Rafael Nadal’s wonderful ‘golden slam’, spare a thought for our very own Andy Murray.
The British number one is facing another season without a Grand Slam and is currently without a coach.
Having demolished Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal along the way to his Toronto Masters title in August, the Scot was a strong favourite heading into the US Open. However, Murray came across an in-form Stanislas Wawrinka and succumbed to a shock third-round defeat at Flushing Meadows.
So what next for Murray? A lot of the coverage of his surprise exit has been both negative and cynical, however there remains a plethora of reasons why he can eventually win a Slam.
Unfortunately Murray’s defeats are always going to be exacerbated because he is the only Brit with any hope of reaching a Grand Slam final in the near future.
Writers, pundits and fans are beginning to forget that Murray is only 23 years old in an era of men’s tennis which is brimming with quality players throughout the top 100.
Tim Henman probably failed to win a Grand Slam due to the fact he played in an period with two of the greatest players to grace a tennis court, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Similarly, Murray is attempting to wins majors against arguably the best of all time, Federer and Nadal.
The four slams have passed by but the rest of the season still holds crucial ranking points. Murray must try and bounce back from the disappointment of New York as he heads to Beijing next week.
He must retain his ranking within the top four to continue to receive favourable draws in tournaments – and he will be up against it with Robin Soderling snapping at his heels. The season culminates at the ATP World Tour finals at the O2 Arena in London, where Murray can send a warning to his rivals ahead of next season.
But first he must hire a coach who can find that missing piece in the puzzle. He has reached two Grand Slam finals, only falling to the brilliance of Federer on both occasions. Since parting company with Miles Maclagan in July, Murray has been deliberating over coaching options but says no decision is imminent.
“(The situation is) the same as it was before the US Open,” he said. “I’m still looking into it and trying to find the best person that can help me.
“I’m going to have to be patient with it, take my time a little bit and I’m sure I’ll find someone that will help me. I haven’t spoken to anybody yet but I’ve spoken to the guys that I work with and I’ve spoken to my mum about the people that I might like to work with.
“I’ve got to try and find out the availability, how many weeks people are willing to do and make the decision based on all the information.”
The frustration surrounding Murray’s failure to win a Grand Slam arises because he is so close; a player of natural athleticism, accuracy and determination.
His new coach must encourage him to take more risks and force him to leave behind the much talked about passive game that has marred some of his performances. His tantrums and teenage moping need to be eradicated if he is to rival the ice cool personas of Federer and Nadal.
Murray’s returning skills, particularly off the backhand side, are lethal. We have all willed him to take that step in and fire a second-serve return down at the feet of his opponent. For whatever reasons he rarely obliges but for a man of his talent this should be a regular shot.
And it is minor adjustments such as this that will help turn a superb tennis player into the Grand Slam champion Britain so badly craves.