Andy Murray; plenty of positives despite defeat against tenacious Alex De Minaur

Andy Murray had a quick but positive week in Zhuhai.

Despite just two matches under his belt the former world number one spent a very competitive 5 hours and 23 minutes on court in his three set victory against Tennys Sandgren and defeat to Alex De Minaur.

One word to take from his time in Zhuhai? Positive.

Andy himself has said following his exit he feels like he is playing at a top 60-70 level and where he has come since he lost to Sandgren at Winston-Salem before the US Open is fantastic.

Physically he looks strong. I remember seeing him in Cincinnati against Gasquet and the improve is night and day. Obviously there is still places to go but it will build up with more match play and bigger tests.

I think it would be unfair to look back at progress and for anyone to be critical because it is the unknown in mens singles tennis to come back from surgery like this.

Just over 8 months ago he broke down in Melbourne hinting that this would be the end now he’s back competitively on a court!

Now, the tennis…

I liked what I saw. Alex De Minaur brings a challenge. This was a match Andy needed because of the tenacity of De Minaur but also this was a match Alex needed to test his skills and variety and he did exceptionally well!

The shots are there, form is temporary and class is permanent.

I’m going to start with the two handed backhand. Ruthless, unpredictable and sharp.

I did think it lacked pace but it had the desired effect you’d hope to get off it.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 12.27.24

image credits – ATP / TennisTV

Unpredictable I said. I built my backhand watching guys like Andy and Novak play and also two of the best two handers in the game are Hyeon Chung and David Goffin, give them a watch on YouTube!

Unpredictable from this stance from Murray, down the line or cross court? Alex is in a good position but you can see he is on his feet. He has a better chance of covering cross court from here but can still make the down the line backhand which he did but couldn’t return.

The disguise on the body of Murray make its difficult to predict where he is going as both are as effective. Quite a few players would have to lean or step in to play the backhand but Andy can disguise it so well.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 12.27.02

image credits – ATP / TennisTV

Respectful position from Alex. He knows what Andy can do from here and from what looks like a generic position he hits the back corner of the court and the ball doesn’t come back.

Onto the forehand, I thought this was his best shot.

Now, you may look at this next image and think… Iain has messed up his drawings but one box is bigger than the other on purpose.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 12.29.01

image credits – ATP / TennisTV

Where will the forehand go? If it goes cross court it will be hit flatter and deeper from Andy especially once it sits up. It is the money maker shot you could say.

Down the line? He can still guide it down there for the winner but is more likely to open it up a little bit more with some top-spin and come in at the net which he did during the match.

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 12.28.11

image credits – ATP / TennisTV

The winner? Forehand cross court. To generate the angle, power and precision from what is really a no look hooked forehand is impressive. Alex gets the frame of his racket to it but could do nothing with it.

Overall despite a defeat soo many positives to take for Murray. Performances, match rhythm and consistency will improve with time from now until the end of the season.

10 aces
4 double faults
72% first serve won
45% second serve won
2/9 break points

Weeks like these are big benefits to the recovery process.

Next up for Andy will be a trip to the ATP500 event in Beijing next week. Shanghai Masters and ATP250 event in Antwerp. No other tournaments are on the schedule as of yet.

All image credits – ATP / TennisTV


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