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Old 07-11-2006, 10:21 PM   #22
monologuist
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I think Gilbert will take Murray into the top 10, possibly top5. Murray has a lot going for him; more than many give him credit for :
-He has an excellent and consistent 2-handed backhand, capable of quite a variety of pace, angle, and spin for a backhand that is so limited, inherently.
-He has an excellent backhand slice. This was the first shot I noticed watching him...his slice is better than 90% (or more) of the top tier ATP. He can keep it very deep and low with good pace, or cut it short and angled, Federer-style. Most importantly, he knows how to use it while contructing a point, again, Fed-like, not just as a bail-out defensive shot.
-His forehand has potential, although it seems to be a bit consistent at this point. It is certainly not a dominating shot, but I think he can easily improve it. He seems to trust a it a little less than his backhand presently, which may be part of the problem.
-His serve has potential as well, IMO. He can get into the high 120's and 130's on his first serve; not bad for such a beanpole-like physique. His motion looks nice and smooth...if he gains some strength, and his body fills out a little, I think his serve will only improve in power. Consistency seems to be lacking in his serve at this point...chalk that up as #1 on his list of things to work on.
-He seems to be an excellent returner....I was very impressed by his returns against Roddick at Wimbledon this year. He knows when to attack and when to return conservatively. For now, his return game somewhat offsets his inconsistent serve.
-I love his passing shots. He is not in the same league as Nadal or Monfils in court coverage, but he seems deceptively quick, and has a nose for the ball. His passing shots always seem very controlled and accurate on both wings. Along with his backhand (s), and his returns, I rank his passing shots as one of his greatest strengths.
-Defense : As I said before, I think he is deceptively quick. He doesn't have world-class speed, but he moves well and anticipates well. Some work on his fitness and strength will improve his retrieving abilities, I believe, and along with his ability to pass and lob, defense should be an area of strength for Murray.
-Transition and net game : This is an area where I think he is well beyond his young peers, with the exception of Gasquet. Murray clearly is comfortable using the whole court, and has excellent hands at the net, not surprising for a Brit. I'd like to see him attack a bit more in fact, as he seems content at times to counter punch.
-Tennis IQ : Here is where he is head and shoulders above all of the young guns, and most older guns for that matter. Murray posseses the rare gift of seeing how things will unfold a step or two ahead, knows how to contruct points using his extremely well-rounded array of shots, and has been called , repeatedly, a smart "match player". In other words, he is adept at improvising, and adapting to match situations as they unfold, changing tactics when need be, a sign of true tennis intelligence. This I believe, as many do, to be his greatest "weapon", one that is more rare and potentially more lethal than a huge forehand.
-Passion for winning, mental toughness : These are two aspects of Murray's game that have been lauded by tennis "experts". However, it seems that his confidence is easily shaken at this point, and when he is in bad form, the passion and the toughness slip away too easily. But at heart, I believe this guy has some fire; and in matches, he knows how to feed off of it to carry himself to victory. THis is, again, an all too rare trait in today's ATP. Unfortunately, I think at this point, he is not maximizing his mental toughness and tapping into the fire in his belly, mainly due to the fact that his awful level of conditioning leaves him helpless, late in critical matches.
-proficiency on different surfaces - Murray posses the type of game that translates well to all surfaces. Grass and hardcourts are a given for him; if he can improve his fitness, clay becomes a much better possibility.

...so it is clear that the absoulte greatest hole in Murray' game is his fitness. His endurance is paltry presently, and while he has a great frame for a male tennis pro, it is still in an awkward, gangly, adolescent phase. The boy needs to put some meat on his bones, put on his running shoes and head for the hills Agassi-style. If he has more confidence in his body, I believe he will be able to maximize his potential for mental toughness, and develop the killer instinct necessary to take it to the next level.

If Gilbert can encourage Andrew to do the necessary work off the court, I think he could take him far. I also think he will do a good job preparing him mentally and strategically, as those are the two areas that he is known to possess the most wisdom in. All in all, I think he's a great choice for Murray, and it shows that he wants to take things to the next level, and hiring a coach that has "championship experience" is indicative that he may be ready to get serious.
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