Andy Murray is one of the most successful sportspeople Great Britain has ever produced.
Overcoming the trauma of being present at the Dunblane School massacre as a child, he has gone on to cement his place in the British public’s affections to such a degree that he has won the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award a record three times.
In this article we will look at Andy’s tennis game and consider what makes him the player he is.
Andy Murray Playing Style
The approach Andy takes to the majority of matches has evolved over the years, but he has always been determined and fiercely competitive. When he first turned professional as a teenager, he relied upon his speed and extraordinary defensive skills to frustrate opponents, using a range of different shots and spins to break their game down.
Andy had quite a lot of success doing this, even against the great Roger Federer, but gradually the ‘Big Three’ learned how to combat his style, and he realised that he would have to change his game to get to the very top.
In order to move up to the next level, Andy put in a huge amount of physical training, particularly aimed at improving his strength and stamina. He also worked with his coaches to develop a more aggressive game. Andy increased the pace of his first serve, rendering it more of a weapon, and made more attacking use of his forehand.
Andy’s greatest successes came when he was able to impose his attacking game on his toughest opponents, while also utilising his defensive and counter-hitting skills when necessary. He had always been particularly adept at dismantling the game of big-hitting opponents who rely on power, but when he managed to get the balance of attack and defence right he could beat anyone.
In the latter stages of his career Andy has lost some of his speed, so the balance of his game has needed to shift more towards attack and his overall effectiveness has inevitably reduced.
Andy Murray Stroke Analysis
In technical terms, Andy has tended to use a Semi-Western grip and a fairly open stance to produce a topspin forehand. Initially, his forehand was too loopy and not aggressive enough to cause too many problems for the top players, but eventually he learned how to flatten it out more and dominate with it.
Whilst Andy has looked extremely impressive when taking charge with his forehand on many occasions, it does miss more often than his backhand, and he sometimes reverts to a more cautious style as a result of his aversion to making errors.
The backhand has always been Andy’s best shot.
He rarely misses with it, and can produce power, spin and a variety of angles. Andy has an excellent double-handed backhand, but is quite happy to use a single-handed slice when necessary.
What is particularly impressive with Andy’s two-hander is the way it seems so natural. He flows smoothly through the shot and is seemingly able to land it anywhere on the court. His outstanding movement and balance allow him to play a remarkable range of passing shots and lobs, which means that it is a very brave opponent who hits an approach shot to his backhand in preparation for a move to the net.
Andy has relied upon his slice backhand for variety throughout his career. He is accurate with it and rarely misses it, although he does cut across the ball a little, which can reduce penetration.
Andy’s first serve can be extremely impressive. He is a tall, powerful man with good technique, and when everything comes together he can earn large numbers of aces and unreturned serves. Unfortunately his first serve percentage can be quite low at times, which can put pressure on his second serve.
The second serve is possibly Andy’s greatest weakness. At its best, it carries quite a lot of topspin and is difficult to attack, but over the years he has struggled to consistently hit it with real quality. Occasional double faults have sometimes been interspersed with short, slow second serves, and this lack of penetration can be punished by the better returners.
Return Of Serve
Another one of Andy Murray’s great strengths is his return of serve. He likes to stand well back in preparation for the serve, taking a step forward as the opponent throws the ball up, and split-stepping as they strike it.
Andy combines tremendous anticipation with supreme ball control, and he has demoralised many big servers over the years.
Andy has been playing a good standard of doubles since he was very young, although he had to take a step back from it in his best singles years in order to conserve energy, and this has ensured that he is very solid at the net.
He has a nice flat forehand volley, which he is happy to use to rush opponents or finish a point off.
His backhand volley is also sound, but it tends to float a little more, so it can give opponents time to reach it and mount a counter-attack.
What Is Andy Murray Famous For?
Andy is partly renowned for his variety and tactical awareness on court. His drop-shots and attacking lobs are as good as anyone’s, and he normally chooses the right moments to play them. He can be fascinating to watch.
Andy is well-known for being a little grumpy on court and shouting at his support group when things are not going well. His coaches know that they need to ignore his comments during matches and just look calm and supportive.
Andy’s achievements in tennis stand comparison with almost anyone. He has won three grand slam titles, reaching six other finals, been world number one, won two Olympic gold medals and a World Tour Finals, as well as being part of a winning Davis Cup team.
Andy Murray is also famous for the fact that after nearly being forced to retire by a serious hip issue, he had a resurfacing operation and returned to the tour. As at September 2022, he was certainly the only man in the top 50 of the ATP rankings with a partly artificial hip!
At his peak, Andy Murray was as good as any of his ‘big three’ rivals.
- Andy Murray began as a defensive counter-hitter.
- He worked incredibly hard to improve his conditioning and build an attacking aspect to his game that could defeat the best.
- His forehand is strong, but can sometimes be inconsistent.
- His backhand is one of the best ever, and he can play almost any shot with it.
- His first serve is strong, but can be inconsistent.
- His second serve is his weakest area.
- He is a top-class returner of serve, and has a sound volleying game.
- His astute tactical play and determination have helped him to earn a glittering array of prizes.
The game will certainly be poorer when Andy Murray finally retires, although as at September 2022 he is showing no sign of doing so!
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