Fairy Tale In New York

9th September 2007

Roberto Forzoni, an Italian sports psychologist, has helped the player but Murray says that the biggest factor in his improved mental approach has been his physical fitness. He now goes on court knowing that he has the strength to outlast his opponents. Tracy Austin, the former player and now a leading commentator, believes that the Scot can join Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at the very top. “We haven’t even scratched the surface with Andy yet,” she said.

Brain, brawn and backhand The British No 1’s three greatest strengths


Most players find the forehand a more natural stroke to play and can generate more power with the shot than with their backhand. Murray’s greater strength is his backhand. He hits it doublehandedbut can switch to a single hand when stretched. He uses slice very effectively, mostly in defence but also on some approaches, where his low, skidding shots can be difficult to attack. The killer backhand, however, is his attacking two-hander, driven down the line or cross-court. Striking the ball with great racket-head speed, Murray hits the ball with enormous power. Because he hits it so flat, opponents find it hard to cope with the sheer pace of the ball


In his early matches on the senior tour Murray suffered from cramp and muscle problems. With his body still growing, he wisely resisted the temptation to do too much work in the gym to improve his strength. In the last two winters, however, he has concentrated on physical work and has emerged much stronger. Now it is Murray who outlasts opponents, as he did by coming from two sets down against both Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon and against Jürgen Melzer in New York. Murray says that knowing he has the fitness to last long matches means that he can go on court focusing only on his tennis.


Coaches can show you how to play backhands and forehands, but it is much harder to teach a player how to construct rallies and when to play certain shots. Murray has always had a natural ability to outsmart opponents and nobody in the modern men’s game can match his talent for mixing up his shots. In particular, opponents find it hard to cope when he slows a rally down and then surprises with a sudden acceleration of pace. Even Rafael Nadal looked flummoxed as Murray played serve-and-volley on second serves, approached the net behind sliced backhands and followed half-court balls with backhands hammered into the corners.