By Erik Gudris | Monday, August 4, 2014
Now that Andy Murray has taken the plunge with Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, what's next for him as he starts the summer hard court swing?
Photo Credit: Camera Sport
Five years ago, Andy Murray won the Toronto Masters and climbed to a career high No. 2 ranking soon after. Next week, he returns to that same Canadian city looking to climb higher once again. While still viewed as a member of the "big four" that ruled over men's tennis, Murray actually finds himself currently ranked, as of this writing, No. 10 in the world. But that ranking could well move up if Murray takes advantage of the opportunity this summer provides him.
2013 wasn't the best U.S. hard court swing for Murray. Earlier than expected losses in Montreal and Cincinnati led up to the Scot's surprise defeat at the hands of Stan Wawrinka in New York. That loss, in retrospect, isn't so shocking now given Wawrinka's Grand Slam succcess down under. Murray would undergo back surgery soon after and it's only been in the last few months that he's started playing top-flight tennis again.
Yet, Murray still hasn't won a tournament since winning Wimbledon last year. His loss to Grigor Dimitrov at this year's Wimbledon made Murray vow to work even harder off-court.
"If I'm going to play better tennis than I am just now, the only way to do that is by working even harder than I have before. Getting in the gym, getting stronger, becoming physically better. Now we'll see whether I can come back stronger and come back better. No one knows, but I'm going to try," Murray said.
After an incredible run of victories that earned him Olympic Gold, the US Open and then Wimbledon, Murray in some ways is starting over. And not just in the coaching department. Some thought Murray just might reach No. 1 after winning Wimbledon. But now he finds himself chasing Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer again.
That role of "underdog" or "foil" actually suits Murrray better. And he will likely perfer being somewhat out of the spotlight as the focus on the summer's big story, Nadal's withdrawl from both Toronto and Cincinnati, intensifies with speculation if he will compete in New York. Meanwhile, Djokovic and Federer will find themselves the top two seeds at both Masters events with the added pressure each faces. Djokovic will look to build on his Wimbledon success. The same for Federer who will want to avoid an early loss in New York again. That leaves Murray, who will have less expectations going in, to focus only on what he can do.
Now that Andy Murray has taken the cold plunge, literally, with his new coach Amelie Mauresmo, what should we expect from this still fresh, new pairing? Certainly Murray likes having a second opinion. While former coach Ivan Lendl added technical changes and instilled more aggression in Murray, what Mauresmo will add is still to be discovered. More changes to Murray's actual strokes shouldn't be expected. But if Mauresmo does make small, impactful adjustments, physically or mentally, that just might give Murray the slight edge he's been looking for. If he can do that, and still retain what Lendl taught him, then a whole new and improved Murray could prove a force on the courts.
At age 27, Murray isn't satisfied with just two major titles. While he will certainly hit the gym hard, Murray will have to turn the challenge of his current lower ranking into an opportunity to rebound. Five years ago, Murray made a big leap up as he started his North American road trip to New York. Don't be surprised if he starts making a few more moves this summer.