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It's Time for Andy Murray to Regroup and Reform his Game...and now!

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by GALE MOORMAN

Every year is different for a player. But when their change of game plan results in losses, something has to be done...and fast. It's Andy Murray's time.

     Last year in 2016 was a good year for Andy Murray who had played 16 tournaments and won 8 titles. He had played such a variety of players andhad unravelled their games, broke down their resistance and came up a champion. If it wasn't winning a title off of Novak Djokovic, it was defeating Canada's Milos Raonic not only at the Aegon Championships but at Wimbledon. Andy has won over guys from many countries: France's Jo-Wildred Tsonga, Croatia's Marin Cilic, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov as well as Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut and the American John Isner.

     But somehow the bubble started bursting as the 2017 season crawled in. He'd started off the season slow with missing out on a championship when defeated by Novak Djokovic at the Qatar Exxonmobil Open Finals. Then only reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, he was stopped by Mischa Zverev. But it was redemption time and Andy capture his first Dubai Duty Free title over Fernando Verdasco of the 2017 season. It was also the first title Andy had won during the year and he says that "I'm obviously very happy to do it here for the first time...It's been a good start to the year".

     Where did the month's go and what has ever happened to Andy Murray's consistency and mental stamina to win titles? After the Dubai title, he'd only reached the second round, losing to Vasek Pospisil and then the clay season arrived and he'd gone to the third round with Albert Ramos-Vinolas to lose the match in a three-setter. Was he still reeling and feeling a bit 'dodgy' from the elbow injury he had sustained along with the bout of the shingles, a chickenpox related illness to have not felt like his normal self? Very possible. But it was the clay season and he tried to improve his game and strategies as he entered the Barcelona Open. He'd gotten to the semifinals with Dominic Thiem, but it was a 'no go' for Murray as he lost the first set in just over a half hour. Andy's selection of shot was a bit off and he might have felt fatigued as he went the three-set match up with Ramos-Vinolas at the last event in Monte Carlo. This is where things started going downhill for Andy Murray and it appeared no one could help him as he entered tournament after tournaments to lose miserably. The Madrid Open was great for some, but for Andy he'd only reached the third round with Croatia's Borna Coric, a NextGen guy to show his stuff and prove it on Murray, defeating him in straight sets 3-6, 3-6. It was a true struggle for him with no court-coaching of which he's not accustomed to anyway, but his accumulation of 55 unforced errors piled up helping to destroy his game plan and form. Coric did his share of errors allowing the old Murray to get back into the game but Andy had lost his serve, falling behind 4-3 and giving Borna another chance to win the set and it was won by the loss of Murray's serve and an ill-fated call from a line judge giving Borna the set. Coric was winning single-handedly off of Murray's lack of execution of shots and his anxieties and before long the no. 1 seed was putting his racket back in his bag while Borna relished in the victory saying "It feels great, I don't know how I did it but I played perfect during the game and I'm very happy about it".

     The Italian Open was here but Andy Murray didn't quite seem to find his 'mojo' as he battled Italy's Fabio Fognini in the second round. Andy at times strode around aimlessly and then like magic gave a lot of good impressive shots to Fabio who was on a roll and was in his home country, his surface and played superbly against the sluggish no.1 Mr. Murray. Andy was merely a shell of his strategic self from the beginning of the season and even last season. No one could put their hand on what was the matter with his game plan or if he had one at all. As his lackluster match continued, that's how magnificent Fabio came off. It was a straight two sets of 2-6, 4-6 for Murray to pack up his rackets and leave in defeat...again.

     The answers have to be there but what questions will Murray try to pose to himself and his team for a sluggish performance? Reform is highly needed now and as the season goes on, everyone's preparing for the French Open. Will Andy overcome his inabilities by re-grouping and perfecting the strategies he already has shown over the years or willhis slump continue throughout the red clays of Roland Garros. It is for certain something has to be done to give Murray that zest that he seems to have terribly lost along the way of maybe too many tournaments.

RANK #1
Andy
MURRAY


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