A Baffled world number 1

Andy Murray, pull up your socks, and run.

by Sanket Shah
A Baffled world number 1

In November last year, when Andy Murray managed to snatch the zenith of world tennis from his nemesis, Novak Djokovic, everyone started to believe that he was finally ready to break all the shackles and fly. He had lived in the shadows of the top three for a larger part of his career and he looked ready to emerge from that.

Roger Federer, in the twilight of his career, was addressing a knee injury. Nadal's brittle body had given him some more problems. And Djokovic, his arch-rival, had started to move towards the declining line of his career graph.

And so, at the end of 2016, the tennis world knew that the only person who could stop Murray in 2017 would be Murray himself. And so, it happened. It all started to go wrong for Murray at Melbourne Park in his quarter finals match against Mischa Zverev.

Murray, usually known to make short work of Serve and Volley players like Zverev, was unable to get his trademark passing shots and lobs through against the net rusher. He had a real chance to upgrade from the runner-up plate to the coveted trophy as Djokovic had already lost in the previous round.

Murray lost the match in four sets, but in the process, he lost a far more important aspect of his game: his confidence. He lost in the first round to Vasek Pospisil, the world number 128 in the Californian desert and skipped Miami nursing an injury.

Come the red clay, Murray was hungry and looked ready to get some wins under his belt. Murray had a good 2016 on clay, his least favorite surface. He reached the finals of the Madrid masters and managed to go one better at Rome, defeating Djokovic in the finals.

Even in the finals of the Roland Garros, he took the first set against Djokovic and had the serb's back against the wall, before finally giving in to the ruthless Djokovic pressure. However, the 2017 clay season has not been kind to him.

He lost to Albert Ramos Vinolas, a lesser known Spaniard in the Monte Carlo masters. To add to his misery, he lost to Dominic Thiem the next week in Barcelona. Murray lost again to Borna Coric yesterday in straight sets in Madrid taking his W-L tally in 2017 to a miserable 15-5.

To say, the current state of Andy Murray's game is purely a loss of form will not be correct.
He has looked clueless and vulnerable to players far less talented.
The scot has played bad tennis in the past, but one thing that has kept him floating is his ability to fight.

Andy Murray got through many battles on court on his off days purely by his never give up attitude.
The same attitude which shot him up to the peak of men's tennis is missing, which should be the biggest concern for Lendl and company.

Tennis is a game of phases. Andy Murray is in that phase of his career where he has the opportunity to win practically everything that is on offer. If he fails to capitalize now, he does not deserve to be named in the same breath as his other three counterparts.

Make hay while the sun shines, they say. If Ivan Lendl cannot make Andy Murray work when his sun is up and shining, history books will slowly revise the chapters to 'Big 3' from the supposed 'Big 4'.

Andy Murray