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

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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam