It’s now been over a year since Andy Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon title in front of a packed Centre Court crowd. Many, including me, expected Murray to take this impressive form into the Hard Court season and beyond but he’s done anything but. In the year since he hasn’t even reached a final, lone alone win a title
. Injuries and a coach change hasn’t helped the Brit but he’s yet to reproduce the form we know he’s capable of since that glorious day back in July 2013. I take a look back at his results since he won Wimbledon.
After the high of winning Wimbledon, the top players headed to Toronto to take part in the Rogers Cup, a tournament which Murray won in consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. After receiving a bye into the second round, he saw off Spain’s Marcel Granollers in two tight sets to set-up a match against Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian put aside the 0-5 head-to-head record between the pair to register a 6-4 6-3 win, becoming the first man to defeat Murray since he became a Wimbledon Champion. The second tournament of the American hard-court swing took place in Cincinnati, where like Toronto, Murray had been champion twice. After receiving another bye, he saw off Mikhail Youzhny and Julian Benneteau in comfortable fashion before facing Tomas Berdych in the Quarter-Finals. The match was a mirror-image to the Gulbis clash, with the Czech winning 6-3 6-4 to book an early flight to the US Open for the Brit.
These early exits created a dark cloud over Murray’s chances of successfully defending his 2012 US Open crown, but many thought it was a long hangover from winning Wimbledon. His first four rounds looked testing but not worrying on paper with Michael Llodra, Leonardo Mayer, Florian Mayer (No relation) and Denis Istomin being dispatched to set-up a meeting with rising Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka. This was viewed as Murray’s first real test in the tournament and it panned out that way as Wawrinka destroyed Murray winning 6-4 6-3 6-2 in a match that was one-sided ever since the Swiss took the first set.
A week after the disappointment of unsuccessfully defending his title, Murray travelled to Umag to help Great Britain in their Davis Cup World Group play-off against Croatia. In both his matches, Murray won in straight sets beating youngster Borna Coric in the first rubber before wrapping up the tie for team GB against Ivan Dodig. Little did people know that this would be his last tour level match for some time..
After missing the end of 2013 due to back surgery, Murray returned to tour action at the Qatar Open in Doha for the 250 event. He completely destroyed local Shanan Zayed 6-0 6-0 in a match which seemed more like hitting practice than a tour level match. He then faced Florian Mayer in the second round and after winning the first set, looked on course to reach the Quarter-finals. However, the German had different ideas and took the final two sets 6-4 6-2 to avenge the defeat Murray gave him at the previous US Open. It was tough to judge Murray’s level as he had played two completely different matches but it wasn’t the ideal preparation going into the first slam of year. The Australian Open.
The last 4 Australian Open’s had been successful for Murray with 3 final appearances and a semi-final back in 2012, making it foolish to rule him out of contention despite the lack of match time. Murray himself played down any expectation and aimed for alot of court time to get back into the swing of things. The first three rounds were fairly comfortable as the 4th seed brushed aside Go Soeda, Vincent Millot and Feliciano Lopez to reach a 4th round match with Lucky Loser Stephane Robert. The first two sets were straightforward with the Brit only losing 3 games to the Frenchman who seemed overpowered by the player and situation. Out of nowhere Robert took the third set in a tie-break but Murray quickly banished any comeback by taking the fourth set 6-2 to win in 4. That third set was Murray’s first real test of the tournament and came at the right time with a Quarter-Final match with Roger Federer looming. Federer had looked in good touch throughout the opening rounds with the Stefan Edberg effect beginning to kick in. He continued this good form and took the first two sets in the Quarter-Final, taking advantage of a below-par Murray. When Federer broke the Murray serve late in the 3rd set, it appeared that the Swiss legend was going to win in straight sets by serving the match out. Unbelievably Murray broke back and took the set to a tie-break where he saved two match points to win the third set and keep himself in the tournament. The momentum seemed all with the 4th seed but Federer had other ideas, breaking the Murray serve again and this time successfully serving the match out with an ace to finish. Despite the disappointment of losing in a Grand Slam Quarter-Final, it seemed as though the real Andy Murray was back.
Next up was the Davis Cup first round against Team USA in San Diego. The Americans picked the tie to be played on clay due to this being Murray and co’s least favoured surface. The tie was set to be a thriller with USA boasting two big servers such as John Isner and Sam Querrey, both who had caused Murray trouble in the past.
Unfortunately for USA, John Isner pulled out injured and Donald Young was called into Jim Courier’s team. Murray saw off Young easily before James Ward shocked Querrey in 5 sets to give GB a 2-0 lead heading into the doubles. The Bryan brothers gave the USA a lifeline defeating Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming before Murray had the chance to clinch the tie against Querrey. Murray stunned the US crowd by winning in 4 sets and sending Britain through to a Quarter-Final tie in Italy.
His first tour action since the Australian Open was on the hard indoor courts in Rotterdam where Edouard Roger-Vasselin laid in wait for Murray’s first test. The Frenchman was seen off easily before, despite struggling in the second set, Murray beat upcoming youngster Dominic Thiem in 3 to reach a Quarter-Final with Marin Cilic. Murray struggled throughout and the Croatian took full advantage winning 6-3 6-4. Acapulco was next up with Pablo Andujar and Joao Sousa being seen-off before Gilles Simon was edged out, despite the Frenchman running away with the first set 6-1. This was the furthest that Murray had gone in a tournament since winning his Wimbledon title but Grigor Dimitrov ensured he went no further, winning a thrilling 3 set encounter, with the help of two tie-breaks. Heading into the first American hard-court swing on the year, Murray’s form was indifferent and he was creating a habit of losing tough to call matches against players ranked around him. This habit continued with Milos Raonic becoming the latest man to win against him, coming from a set down to win their 4th round encounter in Indian Wells. The warning signs had been there throughout the early rounds with both Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely taking the Brit to three sets.
The final tournament before the clay season took place in Miami with Murray looking to defend his 2013 title. He received a bye into round 2 where Matthew Ebden was his opponent. Murray started poorly and Ebden took the first set 6-3 before capitulating and winning 1 of the next 13 games. Both Lopez and Tsonga were seen off in identical fashion in the next two rounds to set-up a rematch with Novak Djokovic, their first since that Wimbledon final. Djokovic gained his revenge by winning 7-5 6-3 with Murray showing signs of encouragement throughout the match. It was announced during this tournament that Murray had split with coach Ivan Lendl, the man who had inspired him to great success. Will this affect his performances?
Fortunately for Murray and the other members of the Great Britain squad, they gained some vital clay court match-time with the Italian Davis Cup tie set to be played on the dirty surface. Murray beat Andreas Seppi to level the tie before playing a part in the doubles victory to give himself the chance to wrap the match up. However, Fabio Fognini had other ideas and played a superb clay-court game to win in straight sets and allow Seppi to complete win by beating Ward in the fifth and final rubber. It seemed as though Murray was suffering from tiredness as he had played a part each day and Fognini took full advantage by stunning the Brit. Despite the disappointment, Murray had gained some more vital clay court practice, heading into the Madrid masters.
A tough draw laid in wait with many clay-court specialists being drawn into the 7th seed’s section. Nicolas Almagro was first up, and despite losing the first 6-1, Murray took the match in three sets to begin his personal clay season in winning style. Next up was Santiago Giraldo, who had seen off Tsonga in the previous round, making him a dangerous opponent. He was more than dangerous in their match with the Colombian blasting Murray off the court winning a surprisingly one-sided match 6-3 6-2 to claim the biggest win of his career. Statistically clay is Murray’s least favoured surface and injury niggles made this loss a less shocking one than it seemed at first.
Rome was the last pre-Roland Garros event that Murray was scheduled to play and he set himself up a meeting with Rafael Nadal in the Quarters after seeing off Marcel Granollers and Jurgen Melzer without the loss of a set. He put aside any doubts about his clay court form in the first set, completely destroying Nadal 6-1 in an amazingly one-sided set. Rafa took full advantage of a lapse in form from Murray by evening the match up, setting up a final set shootout. Murray was up a break in the decider but Nadal broke back immediately and broke one final time to prevail 7-5. He may have lost, but Murray showed the form we knew he was capable of. A great match to get him ready for the second Slam of the year; The French Open.
Andrey Golubev was beaten in 4 sets in the first round before Marinko Matosevic was shown the exit in straights, to set up a third round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German started the stronger and won the first set 6-3 before the tables seemed to turn with Murray winning the second and third sets. Kohlschreiber surprisingly won the fourth set meaning the pair would have to come back the next day to complete the match. Serving first, Murray was always ahead and after saving break point himself, he broke the German’s serve to take the fifth 12-10. He was set for another 5 set thriller in the Quarters after beating Fernando Verdasco in three tight sets.
Eccentric Frenchman Gael Monfils came from two sets down to level the match at 2 sets-all, but with the light fading and play seemingly going to be suspended, Murray blitzed Monfils 6-0 in the final set, to reach the semi-finals where Nadal loomed again. Pundits were suggesting that this was the best Murray had ever played on clay and that his Wimbledon 2013 form was back but the semi-final was completely the polar-opposite. The Spaniard played a clay-court masterclass in defeating the Brit 6-3 6-2 6-1, on his way to his ninth Roland Garros crown. Again Murray had disappointment in the latter stages of a tournament but this was encouraging due to clay being his least favoured surface. Next up was the grass season, a surface that he hadn’t lost on for two years.
Murray’s first opponent was Paul-Henri Mathieu and a professional performance saw the Brit through 6-4 6-4 to continue his grass court winning streak. Another tour veteran was next up in the form of Radek Stepanek, a player who could be anyone on his day. Unfortunately for Murray, Stepanek’s day was in their match and he ended Murray’s winning streak on grass in stunning fashion after saving multiple set points in the first set tie-breaker. Not the most ideal preparation for Wimbledon but nothing serious to really worry about. This was just one of those days surely?
After surprisingly appointing Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach, the Wimbledon draw was kind to the defending champion with David Goffin, Blaz Rola, Roberto Bautista-Agut and big serving Kevin Anderson all beaten in straight sets to meet Dimitrov in a mouthwatering Quarter-Final. With Dimitrov fairly inexperienced at Grand Slams many saw him the underdog in the encounter, despite the prospect of a thrilling match. Murray came out of the blocks slowly and the young Bulgarian pounced to take it 6-1. He then broke the Murray serve in the second but gave the break up again immediately with all the momentum seemingly with the Brit. However, Dimitrov won the set tie-breaker then broke Murray twice in third set to record a 6-1 7-6 (4) 6-2 win, dumping the defending champion out of the tournament.
Murray’s loss of form could be down to many different factors; Has his day come and gone? Is he still not over his injury? Has the loss of Lendl affected him? For me, it’s a mixture of the three. After the jubilation of winning Wimbledon it was expected that a few surprising losses would come but his injury worries did not give him a chance to make up for it. Missing three months off the tour is tough for anyone but I still think he’s getting used to being injury free. Looking at his results, it’s apparent that he’s in the habit of losing tight matches and losing to players that are ranked around him. To win tournaments he must overcome this factor or he’ll continue to lose out in the latter rounds. With him falling to number 10 in the world, it looks likely he’ll have to meet higher ranked players early, making it harder to win tournaments.
The appointment of Mauresmo is a strange one as she was a player who suffered with mental problems throughout her career, something Lendl helped Murray with. It’s too early to judge whether it’s working, we’ll have to wait for that. I still believe Murray has more to offer and a few more slams are possible if he gets over his injury worries completely and he beats the top players consistently. The titles may not come this year but if he performs positively towards the end of 2014, he can take his form into 2015 and immediately challenge at the first slam of the year.
Murray rest of year schedule –
4th August – Toronto – 1000
11th August – Cincinnati – 1000
25th August – US Open – Grand Slam
6th October – Shanghai – 1000
20th October – Basel – 500
27th October – Paris – 1000
ATP Tour Finals – Still needs to qualify.
So what do you think of Murray’s form? Any comments are always appreciated.