So Andy Murray’s finally there!
Back in January Andy took Novak Djokovic to the edge in the Australian Open semi final but, for whatever, reason he came up marginally short. In this case the difference between success and not was marginal. He’d also made a promising start in his fourth slam final at Wimbledon before being edged out by a sublime and resurgent Roger Federer. Now Andy has finally won the US Open, his first grand slam, it’s interesting to reflect on what might have made the difference and what he and others have said.
It has regularly been said that Andy’s is up there with the other “big three”, more frequently referred to as the big four in the UK, though without a slam win, prior to this win, it was difficult to bracket Andy with Federer (17), Nadal (11) and Djokovic (5). His record in other tournaments and performance levels surely merited it but these guys live and work to peak for the slams.
After each major loss Murray has regularly stated that he needed to “work harder”. The margins between winning and losing at this level are small and, while all these players work incredibly hard, it’s more about focusing on the vision of what it takes to win and the small things that make a difference. One thing that Andy has done is bring on board Ivan Lendl to his team. He has a team to cover a range of aspects of his performance, though this is the first time he has brought someone on board that has actually had the experience of winning a slam. Ironically, he also lost his first four slam finals before going on to win eight grand slams, though at the point he joined Team Murray, Andy had lost just three finals.
One observation has been that Andy often gets angry with himself in matches with things are out of his control. A number of times when he has had break points and his opponent has hit an ace or a winner he has berated himself. This is a waste of energy, the other top players recognise that it is beyond their control and move on. It’s something that Lendl has been working on with Andy and, while it still happens, it is occurring less and less as he recognises that those things that are beyond his control are not worth getting wound up about.
While he has continued to work hard focusing on those little things that make a difference enabled him to stay in the present and lift his performance again when Djokovic had levelled the match, with the momentum very much in his favour, he will continue to work hard and look for more success.
“You want to try to win those big matches and big tournaments and I’ll keep working hard,” said Murray.
“I want to keep improving,” said Murray. “I know how it feels to win a Grand Slam and winning the Olympics.”
It’s that desire to continue improving and not settle for a particular level of achievement that makes top players continue to achieve.