John McEnroe believes that Andy Murray’s crushing defeat by Roger Federer at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was down to exhaustion. “He has played too much,” McEnroe said here on Friday in the wake of Murray’s 6-0, 6-1 defeat at the hands of the 33-year-old Swiss. “I am assuming he is on the verge of burnout.”
Murray played 23 matches in 37 days in the run-up to the season-ending championships in his successful pursuit of the ranking points he needed to make the eight-man field. However he then failed to qualify for the semi-finals after winning only one of his three round-robin matches.
“He seems to have not much left in the tank,” McEnroe said. “He looked tired. I haven’t seen him close up, but his legs looked heavier. I remember pointing out to my brother last night when we were doing the match. I said: ‘If you’d never seen a tennis match before, who’s moving better?’ It was clear to me that Roger was moving significantly better, absolutely beautifully – but then he always does.
“Andy at his best, physically, would seem to cover the court, speed-wise, the best. Roger doesn’t waste a step, or any energy. He’s the Baryshnikov of our time. But he was able to look like he would have won a foot race if they’d had one. That leaves me to believe there was some other stuff going on, like fatigue.”
Asked for his verdict on Murray’s association with Amélie Mauresmo, who has been the Scot’s coach since June, McEnroe said: “I don’t like getting people into trouble. It’s my job to be honest. I would not call it a roaring success. That would be the simplest way of putting it. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be given more time. That’s not up to me. When I played Ivan Lendl recently he was saying that for anything it needs a year or two. So if that’s true you’ve got to give her more time.”
Greg Rusedski suggested on television that Murray had lost some aggression from his game this year. Murray was not impressed when told about the former British No 1’s comment.
“I wouldn’t say that’s the case at all really, but Greg obviously has his opinions, on many things, and his job is to express those opinions on TV,” the Scot said. “That doesn’t mean I have to agree with him, though.
“In a match like that what do you want me to do? The guy was half-volleying the ball inside the baseline, so you had no time to react. The ball was coming off the middle of his racket on every single shot, so I’d have been interested to see how Greg would have approached it.”
McEnroe believes that Murray should not dwell on his biggest defeat for more than seven years. “If he learns anything from Roger, it would be to forget that sort of thing,” the veteran American said. “Roger is magnificent at forgetting devastating losses. He shrugs it off and moves on. That is not a tape you want to look at.”
Murray said he would “try and move on from it in the next couple of days” and added: “Any time I’ve had tough losses in the past I’ve had maybe three or four days and then I’ve been fine and I’ve been able to deal with it from there.”
Nevertheless, the Scot does not plan to wipe from his memory banks his heaviest defeat on the main tour for more than seven years. “While I won’t take positives from the match, by looking at it and using the disappointment I can use it as motivation for next year,” he said. “Over the next few days when I talk about tennis, this match will still hurt a little bit.”
McEnroe thinks that Murray needs a break from tennis, but the world No 6 will be back on court in a fortnight’s time playing in the Philippines for the Manila Mavericks in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League.
Before then Murray is looking ahead to his role as best man at the wedding next weekend of his friend and former Davis Cup colleague, Ross Hutchins. “The speech isn’t done yet,” Murray admitted.
McEnroe attended the first meeting tomorrow of the ATP’s newly-formed Legends Advisory Board, on which Boris Becker, Mats Wilander, Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt are his fellow members. The ATP has also set up a Business Advisory Board comprising the designer and entrepreneur Tommy Hilfiger, the PR guru Matthew Freud, David Hill (21st Century Fox) and Robert Senior (Saatchi and Saatchi). The two boards will meet three or four times a year and will offer advice to the governing body’s leadership on the sport’s future direction.
Chris Kermode, the ATP’s president and executive chairman, said that although tennis was “in probably the best place it’s ever been” he wanted to investigate ways in which improvements could be made. “Any business has to question who is watching the game, where is the next generation of fans, how people are absorbing content, and present and question the product on the court,” he said.Reuse content