This year Andy Murray has had a couple of surprise defeats. First of all to Mischa Zverev in Melbourne and more recently Vasek Pospisil in Indian Wells but what has been a big issue in these defeats? 2nd serve seems to have dropped off but why has that invited serve and volley tactics from opponents?
Murray went on a big run winning titles here, there and everywhere at the backend of the year and a big aspect of his game which improved was the second serve which I wrote about and will post a link at the bottom of the piece to but what has changed and why has it changed?
Novak, London, O2.
Let’s rewind to the final of the World Tour Finals in London. Murray blew Novak off the park and his serve was exceptional especially the second as even though it isn’t the fastest most damaging serve on the tour it was clinical in nullifying attacks from opponents.
This still put’s it into perspective. That kick second serve, if Murray goes into the body Novak has time to adjust but with down the T the only thing Novak can do is stretch on a neutral and central ball and being on the stretch means it won’t be coming back with more interest on it, so why has it changed?
Two different matches, one against Sousa on the left and the other against Zverev on the right which shows a game point and a break point from two separate years!
Similar body position, similar return position, body weight moving forward but Murray scurrying back and similar speed. It’s like a mirror but on two completely contrasting points isn’t good, where is the variety?
The main issue is the position of the ball when it bounces which is tough to see from these stills above so let’s have a look below;
Depth isn’t good enough, the backhand from both is being lined up and it comes in about 118mph which isn’t bad but because of the lack of depth they can push up.
There is effectively 12 months between these points and we see what he did v Novak in London so why revert back?
I don’t think he has reverted back due to choice and you sense frustration with his serve. He was knocked out of the singles and then a couple of days later after he and Dan Evans lost their doubles match in Indian Wells the world number one was seen out on centre court at Indian Wells about 10-10:30 at night practicing his serve so he is obviously not happy.
Serve and volley
This change up on serve has attracted the net approaches and against players who like to serve and volley they have stepped up on Murray’s serve especially down the middle of the box and because of his body position time and time again they go into the forward corner with it being further for him to stretch.
The speed of the serve is ok but the placement isn’t and I’ve shown that graphic v Novak in London where he kept the serve tight to the T but surprisingly has gone more central.