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

It is Federer's remarkable serenity that so intimidates opponents

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

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

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26  

General Election 2015: It's time we forgot what school we all went to

Stefano Hatfield
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions