Google Down the Line!: Murray still trying to find the right mix

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Murray still trying to find the right mix

Andy Murray knows his game is in need of a major tune up with the most obvious sign being his decision to drop Alex Corretja and begin the search for a full-time coach (he'll be teaming up with the adidas Baller Development Program in the meantime - good move.) He gave the media a lengthy interview at Queen's Club where he announced his return to the Aegon Championships this summer and discussed a number of topics including his thoughts on why this change was needed, what he's looking for in a new head coach and the reasons behind his abysmal post-Oz performances particularly at Indian Wells + Miami. He also confronts the talk by those out there who think he "doesn't listen".

As I mentioned, it's chalk full of yummy nuggets. However, I'm only going to pull out some of the quotes I found interesting. I encourage you to check out his answers here which comes with a bit a video interview with Muzz at the end. You'll be happy you did (or not.)

On his post-Oz Open mindset:
"After Australia, the night I lost in the final, I had a really long conversation with my mum and with Jez [Green, physical trainer] about what I felt I needed to work on.
"Last year, there was no chance I was going to speak to anyone, whereas this year I felt like I was playing well, I was really disappointed with the final, but I knew the little things I wanted to improve on."
I could definitely see the disappointment during the Oz Open final but it came through as massive frustration and petulance. But again, why would he let it get to that point DURING the final? Based on Novak Djokovic's performance this year so far, Muzz probably knew he was up against it from the first ball and it just snowballed into what we all witnessed. So....carry on...

On preparing for Indiami:
"Then it wasn't until maybe four or five weeks [after the Oz Open final] that I actually spent any time on court working on any of these things and, all of a sudden, it becomes a bit of a rush. You have like a week or 10 days to get ready for Indian Wells.
"It seemed like I was trying to do so many things - work on coming to the net, play a bit closer to the baseline, use the forehand down the line a bit more, step in on my backhand a bit more. All of these things I was thinking, going into the match, and you really need to go into a match with a clear mindset but it didn't really feel that way.
"It probably showed in my body language and my mental state. In Miami, I was getting more angry. In Indian Wells, I was just kind of lost. I wasn't really doing a whole lot on court."
Uh, yeah. Ten days ain't gonna cut it for our March Madness. Total brain cramp. But he's been on the tour for a while now and has won in Miami so he knows what it takes to perform at these Masters 1000s. Pass...DENIED.

On what he's looking for in his next head coach:
"I'm looking for someone who can come to the big events with me, who isn't restricted in terms of the weeks they can do. If they can't come to the French Open, for example, then for me that's quite a big negative. I'd like them to be around at the big events.
"It's important to have someone you have respect for and someone that doesn't take any crap. If you're getting away with mediocre sessions, it doesn't have to be screaming at you but it can be taking you to one side and explaining to you things aren't good.
"But if it takes screaming to get the best out of a player, you have to accept that."
I'm not a tennis pro nor am I a coach of any kind so I can't really speak to that point. However, I HATE being screamed at for any reason so it wouldn't work for me. I'd have to plug a bitch.

More from the interview after the jump (I told you the shit was LONG) - click the head y'all.

On the talk that he "doesn't listen" (his words):
"I spoke to Darren Cahill a lot in Miami and I was saying to him that I think questioning stuff is the way to improve things. He was saying that as a coach you can't have a good relationship with a player if you aren't able to ask the thorough questions, and he doesn't bother to ask you questions.
"It shouldn't be a problem to disagree, it happens all the time. I'm sure many people have disagreed with me and I've disagreed with people. I think it's good to talk about it calmly. You should be able to discuss it and it's important the person has the confidence to explain to you why."
I'm not sure he's addressing the point here. Apparently, those who either know him, have worked with him or covered him in-depth have made this observation about Muzz and think he doesn't take in and/or accept the coaching advice given to him. Look, it's okay to question and disagree but if there's no openness to change and no obvious progress then it's just someone taking a stand to take a stand. We'll let the results speak for themselves.

On a new approach to developing his game:
"I think it's important you can see things visually. It can help a lot and it's something I haven't really done over the last couple of years. Once I started watching 10, 15, 20 minutes of video of myself over the last month, there are things I could pick up within minutes and think, 'I can't believe I was doing that.'"
Color me shocked. I can't believe he hasn't been watching himself practice and play matches in the last couple of years. Miles Maclagan and, to some small extent, Alex Corretja: You guys get a RED CARD. Oh wait, you already got one. You know, the first time I watched myself my game changed and improved almost overnight. It wasn't a monumental adjustment - just a tweak here or there. But I would never have known I needed to make that change without seeing it for myself. And I'm just a lowly park baller.

On the baller-coach relationship off the court:
"I'm not saying they have to be comedians. You just need to get on well with them, but they don't have to be incredibly funny. That's definitely not one of the things I'm too worried about. It's about getting the best out of them when they're on the court."
Completely agree.

Damn, does Muzz come across as uber-heady to anyone else here? I can see why his game developed they way that it did. I can see why Muzz continues to struggle as well. He's so far in his head about his multi-faceted game and career that he can't seem to put it all together on court where it matters, to really embody the game he owns. As we know, too much thinking in tennis can really hamper playing tennis. No flow, no go.

Maybe this new coach will be the glue that puts Humpty Dumpty back together again and keeps all the moving parts in place. He can only hope.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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