Andy Murray – Monte Carlo Rolex Masters – 2010

Posted on April 18, 2010

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written for Student Direct

Andy Murray’s abysmal form shows no signs of subsiding, with a lacklustre defeat meaning that he has now slipped to fifth in the world rankings. The red clay of Monte Carlo may not be his preferred surface, but a dismal 6-2 6-1 second-round defeat to world number 33 Phillip Kohlschreiber has once again highlighted Murray’s obvious lack of focus. With the clay-court season now in full swing, he must quickly adapt and start winning matches again.

Last year at this event he reached the semi-finals, his best clay-court performance to date, before losing to Rafael Nadal in a closely fought match. Nadal’s relief that day was palpable and offered a ringing endorsement of Murray’s improving clay-court abilities. Fast-forward 12-months and there is a significant change. Murray looked so poor in his defeat, particularly on his back-hand side, that he would have struggled to register a victory no matter who the opponent. He produced an error strewn performance which gave him no platform on which to build. Kohlschreiber probably couldn’t believe his luck as he dispatched one of the game’s biggest names with ease. In fairness, Kohlschreiber is no slouch on this surface, overtly demonstrated at least year’s French Open when he defeated Novak Djokovic in round 3. However, with Murray desperate to avoid his first 3 match losing streak for 4 years, one would have expected him to make a better fist of it. The boos that rang out at the end of the match were unnecessary, and certainly unhelpful to a player so clearly out of form, but the crowd’s frustration is understandable given that the world has become accustomed to witnessing scintillating Murray performances. At least he knows how badly he is playing. His post-match admission that his performance here was “rubbish” is a view one would find difficult to disagree with.

Some journalists have tried to offer Murray’s off-court personal problems as excuses for his current plight. A reconciliation with his girlfriend, whom he separated from last November, and the savage criticism he received from John Lloyd after his sacking as Britain’s Davis Cup coach, have both been touted as potential reasons for Murray taking his eye off the ball. However, his recent performances have been so dour that it suggests a much more fundamental problem is at play. His renowned desire and ability to fight for every point are no longer in evidence, and he must now take stock and remember the attributes that made him one of the most feared players on the ATP World Tour. If he can do that, he is capable of producing the kind of tennis that can beat the very best. He must now concentrate his efforts on regaining some form over the coming months in the hope that he can then mount a title challenge at this year’s Wimbledon championships.

Rafa Nadal became the champion here for the sixth year in a row, destroying Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-1 in the final. It was Nadal’s 32nd consecutive victory at these championships and this win ended an 11-month trophy drought for the King of Clay. Amazingly, Nadal only dropped 14 games en-route to the title, a career best for him, and he looks a seriously good bet to regain his crown at Roland Garros later this year.

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Posted in: Tennis