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

It is Federer's remarkable serenity that so intimidates opponents

Share
Related Topics

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

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices