Street-fighting man with bigger battles to come
The teenage sensation always gives his best shot and looks the real deal, writes Nick Bollettieri
Monday 03 October 2005
Murray was loose as a goose. He played his own game. He was not overawed, or overpowered, or comprehensively outplayed. He gave it his best shot - and there were a few of those, including some brave drop shots and nice slices. The fact that it was not good enough is really immaterial right now. Nobody in the world at the moment is good enough to expect to beat Roger Federer. The important thing is his attitude was good.
Already in Thailand he had come through two tough tests, against Robby Ginepri, the hard-hitting US Open semi-finalist, and Paradorn Srichaphan, Thailand's biggest sporting superstar, whose stamina and range of play have troubled the very best.
So what Murray has shown us, before Thailand but especially these last seven days, is that he's not just a summer hot-shot. Not just a kid who caused a stir at Wimbledon and caught New York's attention for a couple of matches after laying his guts on the court in more senses than one. Not your ordinary British player. Not a gentleman stroller, but a street fighter. As I wrote recently, in more than 50 years as a coach and observer, I have seen nothing to compare that has come out of British tennis.
Of course, all the toughest tests are ahead. In this, Murray's breakthrough season, opponents have not really known what to expect, and that hands Murray the advantage. Next season, we'll see how he copes when people are gunning for him, not vice versa.
It also needs stressing that while Murray's been impressive in storming into the world's top 100, everyone should remind themselves that what he is doing at 21 - in three years' time - is what we should be looking for. In other words, he has all the ingredients now, but give him and his team the time and space - and lay off the pressure - while they're being combined.
The men's circuit has some very special teenage players now, led by Rafael Nadal, already a Slam winner. Richard Gasquet is another, and Gael Monfils, who was a junior Slam winner, like Murray.
British tennis should be proud that it can boast one of the circuit's most promising players. Now capitalise, and find some more.
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