Aidan Moran: Murray can be a winner, but he must fight harder and longer

It is Federer's remarkable serenity that so intimidates opponents

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In the build-up to yesterday's final, Roger Federer spoke of the extra pressure on Andy Murray. He was, after all, aiming to become the first British player for "What is it, 150,000 years?" Roger Federer asked, to win a Grand Slam.

Certainly Murray does seem to play slightly differently in the biggest matches of all, and should he ever win a Grand Slam, there will be a great deal of weight of expectation released from his shoulders. But he is a level-headed guy, he doesn't care what the media says or thinks. He also comes from Scotland, not a great tennis-loving nation. It is not the pressure of expectation that affects him: he has already played in two Grand Slam finals - two more than Henman ever managed - and he is only 22. Rather it is the pressure of inexperience in these biggest of all matches, and the impact this has on decision making and strategy.

In Federer's pre-match words it would be tough for Murray, "because he's playing, you know, me". Yes, Andy Murray has the better record in head-to-heads between the two players, having won 6 of their 11 encounters. Federer, though, has played in 22 Grand Slam finals, winning 16. Andy Murray has now played two and lost two.

Before the game many pundits were concerned that Murray would play too defensively, lacking the aggression he had shown in the earlier rounds, particularly in the match against Rafael Nadal. In the end, Federer hit 46 winners, Murray 29. Clearly the world number one was the more aggressive.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger once said: "The biggest difficulty you have in this job is not to motivate the players but to get them relaxed enough to express their talent." Murray never did this. He eventually created a few chances – an improvement on his defeat by Federer at the 2008 US Open – but when they came he snatched at them, seeming to want only to get the ball back. He didn't treat them with the aggression he customarily would.

For Federer's part, although the physical and motivational differences between players at the highest level are so narrow, it is his remarkable serenity on court that so intimidates opponents, and sets him apart. Tennis is an almost uniquely mentally demanding game. It requires thousands of split second decisions. Federer is a cocoon of concentration. He floats around effortlessly. But this isn't natural, he's worked very hard on it. As a junior player he struggled considerably with anger control.

So if Murray is to be "tomorrow's man" as he was described after the game, and not by simply waiting for Federer – six years his senior – to depart the scene, what must he do to defeat him? Federer is certainly beatable, having lost six Grand Slam finals, five to Rafael Nadal, a man Murray has twice knocked out of Grand Slam tournaments. Murray could learn from watching the Nadal-Federer matches, and seeing how Nadal has developed this aura around him against Federer, which Murray hasn't done. He will need to play in more Grand Slam finals, and play more aggressively when he does, fighting harder and for longer.



Aidan Moran is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology at University College Dublin, a consultant to some of Ireland's leading athletes and teams, and a former Olympic team psychologist. He is the co-author of books on sport psychology, including "Pure Sport: Practical Sport Psychology", alongside John Kremer

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