Agassi: Murray will not let up

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Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi believes Andy Murray must find a way to keep his cool on the court, insisting Great Britain’s number one is a “tortured perfectionist”.

Murray faced Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open last month but despite making a strong start, the Scot crumbled, surrendering the title in four sets and losing the last set 6-0.

It was as much Murray’s temperament as his technique that let him down in Melbourne, with Djokovic claiming 12 of the last 13 games, and cruising to victory against an increasingly frustrated opponent.

“He’s a tortured perfectionist,” said Agassi, speaking at the launch of his BILT by Agassi & Reyes range – an innovative line of fitness machines installed at Chigwell’s David Lloyd Leisure.

“It would help Andy if he came to terms with what could keep him at his highest level mentally.

“I don’t think it’s true he doesn’t have a fighting spirit – that guy is his own highest critic, he holds himself to a standard you wouldn’t dare hold him to.

“When I look at him I don’t see someone who isn’t a fighter but I do see someone who has to put his circumstances in context and figure out how to constantly get back to the job in hand.

“That’s tougher for some players than others.”

Agassi is one of only four players in the Open Era to have won all four grand slam titles and while Murray was growing up, he idolised the American’s swashbuckling strokes from the baseline.

The pair have drawn comparisons in their styles of play but Agassi says he empathises with Murray’s state of mind too.

“I see myself in Andy, I’m not sure for the same reasons, but I can identify with how he appears a lot of the time,” Agassi said.

“It’s a living hell being a perfectionist but does it make you better? It can be a strength because everything is going to get done with the highest degree of standard.

“But everyone’s strength is their weakness too because it can also be demoralising, you don’t accept less and you can be at your worst.

“It’s the artist taking the knife to the canvass – I think it makes Andy shine but I also think it makes him want to hide.”

Just as Murray has had to contend with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, Agassi may have won more titles had it not been for his rivalry with seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras.

“There are times in my career I felt like Pete made me better, there were other times I felt like he cost me my livelihood,” Agassi said.

“There were times I was demoralised by it and there were times I was inspired by it – I think we’ve seen that too with Andy.

“Every grand slam final he’s played has been against Djokovic or Federer – I don’t envy it but I sure respect it and appreciate it.”

Murray has two major titles to his name, having won the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013. He has lost six finals, three apiece to Federer and Djokovic.

“I do see him winning a slam this year,” Agassi added.

“I think Djokovic is a clear level above the field at the moment but a lot can happen, you have to lace your boots up seven times to win a slam.

“I would put Djokovic as the clear dominant player this year but no doubt Andy can beat him, even when he’s at his best, Andy is that good.”

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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