Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Flushing Meadows: Murray's Law on Passive-Aggressive Differentials

(Photo: AP)

Same story, Different Slam.

In all four Slams this year (five if you include the smackdown Federer inflicted on him here last time round), Murray has been swept off court by a guy willing to step it up and use the bigger and not always much better weapons at his disposal.

The way Cilic used his serve and forehand in those last two sets in particular left my eyes watering. Both because of how sensationalist it all was and how strangely ill-equipped he made Murray seem out there.

"A lot of times when I lose I get asked 'why did you look flat?' but it is not always the case - today I couldn't get myself into games and he was dominating points so there wasn't much I could do about it."

-- Andy Murray on his loss to Marin Cilic

"I played very well and he was missing a lot," Cilic added. "I don't think he was playing his best."


I think both these two quotes tell a story, the first more so than the second.

Sure, Murray produced an error-strewn display (his worse at this Slam by far), but a lot of that was simply about the way in which he was reacting to Marin's onslaught.

And the greater story surely has to be where this leaves his passive-aggressive style of play, which like Safina's set up, I think could do with some revision.

Murray claims the way he plays is tailored to fit the the levels of aggression present in the opposition. Put him up against a Gonzalez or a Nikolay, and he'll rope-a-dope them into leaking errors. Against more passive players like Ferrero, he's willing and able to step it up in the way he did against Nadal last year at the semis.

And in between those two extremes lies a continuous spectrum of player-aggression, he presumably uses one long slider bar to adjust up or down to, injecting appropriate amounts of intensity into his game.

I liked that theory. For a time.

It sounded so scientific, so ordered, so very organised. Very much like his coaching set up, with it's carefully balanced team of health, fitness and nutritional experts.

Trouble is, such theoretical adjustments might sound persuasive, but are actually very difficult to realise in a match situation, with it's additional parameters of nervous energy, fatigue, and your opponent very likely raining down blows on you with the venom and intensity of a thousand dark clouds. An imprecise tool for an imperfect art.

In some ways it actually makes you more vulnerable to the guys playing 'lights out' tennis: the last thing you want to do against one of them is to go in unsure of how hard to push down on the gas pedal.

And to put it more bluntly, that approach failed miserably today against Marin who was doing that 'lights out' thing.

But what's more important is that it's also failed against Verdasco (Aussie Open), Gonzalez (RG) and Roddick (Wimby), who were all more than willing and able to step into court and put their possibly more klunky tools, to more devastating effect against a guy that's probably more talented than them, but is still struggling with the numbers.

It's not that I don't believe in Murray's theory or think that it can't be proven true. I just think it's been conclusively shown that it would be indefensible to continue to try.

He could spend the next few years continuing to carefully tune his game, trying to outwit and second guess his opponents. Or he could try out that 'lights out' thing. Which I happen to think he does rather well, and incidentally is equipped well enough to try.
blog comments powered by Disqus


All images on this site have been found in the public domain.
Credit has been given wherever possible.
If you feel your copyright is being infringed upon by any particular image, please contact me and I'll have it taken it down.

You Said...

Powered by Disqus

Receive Updates by Email...

Enter your email address:

  © Free Blogger Templates Spain by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP