Murray must dictate: Henman

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Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Tim Henman believes Andy Murray’s game is lacking identity and thinks he should question his coaching relationship with Amelie Mauresmo.

In an ATP World Tour Finals of ridiculously one-sided matches there has been no more crushing defeat than the one handed to Murray by Roger Federer on Thursday.

Murray was fortunate simply to win a game against a player he has frequently beaten in the past.

It was a dispiriting way to end a tough season and former British number one Henman, a good friend of Murray’s, was frustrated by his lack of aggression.

“When you reflect on the match, for me his game had no identity,” said the 40-year-old BBC pundit. “What was the plan out there? It was really the Federer show.

“Roger played fantastically well, but, for Andy to have an impact, he has to be proactive, and the thing that is always exciting about Andy is there’s no shot in tennis that he can’t hit. If he’s got all these shots in his armoury, my question is why doesn’t he use them?

“He has to look at the way that he can be more offensive and more proactive instead of letting these players dictate to him. He’s got as good a two-handed backhand as Djokovic, but he doesn’t use it as much. I’d be looking for him to really crunch the ball.

“This is about him making his opponents do the running. He’s a great athlete, but he does too much running and, when he’s doing too much running, he’s not dictating enough.

“It’s about clarity of thought and that’s when you’ve got to take a step back and look at the whole set-up, the whole team and his whole lifestyle and see whether that is working as well as it can. At the end of the day, he’s the only one that can answer that.”

Murray turned to Mauresmo in a ground-breaking partnership after Ivan Lendl brought an end to their hugely successful association in March.

The Scot appeared to have turned a corner after the US Open when he won three tournaments in five weeks, saving a combined 10 match points in two finals against Tommy Robredo.

Murray was applauded for his fighting spirit, but Henman did not see the matches as a positive.

Of the Mauresmo partnership, he said: “I haven’t seen them practise but, to me, I don’t think he has been playing the right way.

“He had those ‘fantastic matches’ against Robredo – and Robredo is someone who is absolutely maximising his potential and he’s had a great career – but Andy’s in a different class to him.

“Andy should be dominating him and beating him 6-3 6-3. Three hours and 20 minutes on an indoor court? Something’s wrong.

“Because Andy’s such a good player, he’s capable of winning the wrong way. It’s a great asset, but, when you come up against the very best guys, you can’t just turn it on. He’s got to play the right way all the time.”

Murray and Mauresmo have not had much chance to work together away from tournaments yet and the off-season should give the Frenchwoman the opportunity to have a greater impact on his game.

Murray has said the success or otherwise of their association should not be judged until the Australian Open and it is certain to be under intense scrutiny in Melbourne.

Despite his disappointment with Murray’s performances, Henman thinks he can turn things around in time for the new season.

The former world number four, who agrees with John McEnroe that Murray should take a break rather than get straight back on to the practice court, said: “The great thing about Andy is he’s his own harshest critic.

“He sets the bar high. We’re questioning where he’s at and he’s qualified for the World Tour Finals, which is an incredible achievement.

“So you have to keep perspective, but Andy’s career right now is about contending at majors and, having had the disappointment of the last match of the year, I think it could be a great catalyst for next year.”

So does Henman expect Murray to be challenging for the Australian Open title? “Absolutely; 100 per cent.”

Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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