Murray v Nishikori: The progress principle

January 25, 2012

Kei Nishikori

Murray has had a good Australian Open. But has he improved his play?

I watched, again, bleary-eyed, as Murray, (seed 4) played and beat the 24th seed Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals [25th Jan 2012]. I wanted to see if there had been signs of significant change in his play.

Three patterns of play were checked.

PMA

In the past, Murray’s mental attitude has been predictable. Predictable rather than positive? Under pressure he tends to get hard on himself (and his coaches). That’s changed a bit. Maybe he won’t aim his anger towards his new coach, eight time major winner Ivan Lendl . maybe, he is even managing his anger better.

His serve

Not much change here. Percentage still too low. But hits winners under pressure.

His mid-match slump?

Most disturbing was his continued tendency to drop games having gained a measure of controll over the match. I wondered would it happen after he won the first set. I wondered again after broke in the first game. Then he dropped his serve, admittedly to a ‘dead’ net mishit, but he had already lapsed.

It is too harsh to call this a major slump. But the pattern was too familiar and a bit predictable. A return to ‘normal service’ literally followed plus a break. Murray wins set easily.

And match

Mishikori, more fatigued after a tougher journey, wilted in the third set. Murray wins 6-3, 6-3, 6-1

The progress principle

In an earlier round of the tournament we commented on Murray as illustrating the principle of mommentum. For this match we might shift attention to the progress (or performance) principle.

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