Murray gets to Cincinnati semis but is he improving?

Andy Murray advances to the Semi Finals in the US Open warm-up event in Cincinnati. He believes he is making good progress. But has he made any significant improvement in his play over the last two years? [Opinion piece]

Five years ago there were these two promising young tennis players. Both were seen as likely world No 1s and likely grand slam winners. One fulfilled his potential. The other seems to have stalled.

Novak and Andy

Novak Djokovic progressed to become World No 1, grand slam winner, and favourite to win the US Open. Andy Murray is hanging in there at World No 4, which is still a great achievement, but looking increasingly in need of a quantum leap in play to fulfil his early promise. Few insiders doubt his talent at individual shot-making. He identified a need to get superfit and did something about it. On his day he has beaten the best in the world, including Nadal and Federer (both of whom were knocked out of the Cincinnati Open while Murray progressed to the Semi-finals.

From the bottom of the pile…

As my Tennis Ranking is not No 1, even in my own family. My observations on Murray’s tennis don’t count for much, unless you believe in the merits of a fresh perspective from the bottom of the pile. My professional knowhow is more about the processes through which people reach personal development goals.

Murray tries too hard?

There is one theme within personal development which suggests that you can be over-motivated. So bizarrely, Murray may be trying too hard. His self-abuse remains evident on court. He is too aware when a shot lacks perfection. And when he is not blaming himself his anger gets rechanelled towards his coaching staff (the membership of which changes rather too regularly in comparison to the stability of the Djokowic entourage.

The latest self-help effort

There seemed to be another conscious effort to loosen up in this tournament. Murray comes on court with a smile on his face. But it is a smile which reminds of the sad efforts made by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Gordon was notoriously uncomfortable in the public eye. His body language was poor, as the coaches like to say. Someone hit on the solution. Act confident, Gordon. Show you like it out there. Smile.

But the smile became a grimace of pain

It never really worked for Gordon Brown. The smile became a grimace of pain. If anything it gave comfort to his opponents.

I’m just hoping it will not do the same for Andy Murray.

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