November 12, 2012
Andy Murray was put in his place by Roger Federer in the the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Good thing too.
There can be no argument about a 7-6, 6-2 semi-final defeat for the high-flying Brit. We all know exactly where Andy stands. No confusion. No false claims.
The defeat only confirmed what I suggested in my last blog – that Murray has run out of steam after such an emotional year.
True, I expected Andy to perform a little better than this in London. But not even the extra adrenalin supplied by the home fans could bring his performance level up to the heights we saw in late summer.
So why is it a good thing for Andy to see 2012 out with a whimper instead of a bang? Because it gives him something to aim for.
Murray is no longer the nearly man of tennis. But he isn’t the top man yet either. That means less pressure. He isn’t there to be shot down.
Andy knows he can beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. But he isn’t yet better than them. We all know it, and that takes the heat off Andy while he enjoys his end-of-season break.
It’s a great position to be in. He can savour his Olympic and US Open successes. But he will also be left with a massive appetite to go one or two steps further when the tour resumes.
He will want to become the best in the world in 2013 and want to win Wimbledon. He also knows he is not there yet.
That leaves crystal clear objectives, plenty of unsatisfied ambition. That’s why Murray has already said he is looking forward to Australia.
My advice to Andy is this: switch off for the rest of November and relax. Don’t even think about Australia until we’re well into December. Build again slowly, it’s going to be another amazing year for you and your fans in 2013. But only if we all take a reality check.
The manner of defeat to Roger Federer was good for Murray because it tells us something clearly. Andy still has work to do to become the very best.
When you’re the very best, you can sustain supreme levels indefinitely. For Murray, hitting those heights is still a fleeting, temporary, draining thing.
When victory in the very biggest tournaments becomes more of a habit – as we all hope it does – he won’t feel so emotionally wiped out towards the end of the tennis year.
Murray really needs his break before he mounts his next assault on the summit of world tennis. He shouldn’t even think about his chosen sport for a good few weeks.
Thanks to Federer, the need for some extended down time is even more obvious. Sometimes, doing absolutely nothing is as important to future success as hard work behind the scenes. So do nothing but enjoy yourself Andy! You’ve earned your holiday.
As the Federer match reminded us, and results in October already suggested, your mind and body have been asking you for that holiday for some time. Time to give in.