The TT writers and editors have had some time to reflect on the 2016 Australian Open. This is the second in a 3 part series about the fates of this year’s top three seeds. In these articles we will detail their history at the Australian Open, discuss their recent performances, and assess their chances for future titles at the year’s first slam. A new article will be published daily in order of seeding. Tomorrow look for: Roger Federer at the Australian Open: Consistent Brilliance
Australian Open is one place that Andy Murray can never forget. He has been in 5 finals at this event and has nothing to show for it other than the runner-up plates, which do not really reward a player of Andy’s standard enough. However, with a lot of tennis still left in him, the World No.2 should be motivated and optimistic about his chances of holding the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in his hands one day. Hopefully next year, if only he can overcome the last hurdle.
Andy over the years at Aussie Open
Australian Open is certainly a slam which is very close to Andy’s heart. After his home turf Wimbledon, Andy has a personal best winning percentage at this Grand Slam with 80.36%. But, it takes only one match to crash out of the tournament and that is why Andy is still hungry for his first victory in the finals at this arena.
In his first four appearances Andy made it to the first and fourth rounds alternatively until 2010, in which he reached his first final, on the Blue Plexicushion courts of Melbourne. En route to the final, Andy won his match against Nadal, who had to retire due to knee injury. However, Andy was up 6-3 7-6 3-0 and had produced a solid performance. In the finals Andy lost to then world number 1, Roger Federer in straight sets, but two good weeks gave Murray a lot of confidence.
Murray would then go on to enter 4 finals in six attempts, only to lose all of them to a certain Serbian named Novak Djokovic.
|2014||Q. finals||Roger Federer|
|2012||Semi finals||Novak Djokovic|
|2009||4th round||Fernando Verdasco|
|2008||1st round||J-W Tsonga|
|2007||4th round||Rafael Nadal|
|2006||1st round||Juan Chela|
In his past 7 appearances at the Melbourne Park, only two men have been able to overpower Murray, and they are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
The Final Problem
The most intriguing fact is that in none of the finals he reached, could Murray stretch the match to five sets. On all five occasions, Andy was defeated in four sets or less.
This is a clear indication that on a big occasion like this, even with the Wimbledon and US Open trophies in his cabinet, Andy is not able to hang around for long and succumbs to pressure. He is constantly talking to himself, even shouting and glaring at his box in his matches and is far from composed.
2016 Aussie Open
In this year’s final, Andy was down a break point in the first game, and in no time found himself down 5-0 in the first set. His forehand was inconsistent and weak. The only thing that clicked or looked better than other tools in his toolbox was his cross-court backhand, but you don’t win Grand Slams on a single stroke. The Slider serve down the T in the ad-court and out wide on the deuce court did earn Andy some free points as it always does, but it was not enough to beat Novak. It is evident that Novak is playing tennis at a level almost unseen before in the sport but many experts and former players backed Andy coming into the 2016 season.
McEnroe had the following to say about Andy:
“Even though it looks like Novak is unbeatable, it’s hard to imagine he can keep up this pace. Playing as part of a team is something that Andy really enjoyed, and particularly playing with his brother. That’s going to bring back a lot of fond memories as he looks back in his career. So this could propel him because it forces him to stay sharp and stay in condition a little bit longer [in the year] than he’s used to. So he has to do less off-court training before he plays the Australian … it could propel him here at this event where he has to find that edge.”
Barring the finals, Andy had a good solid Australian Open. He took out quality opponents in Alexander Zverev, Sam Groth, Joao Sousa and hometown favourite Bernard Tomic in the early rounds. In the quarter-finals, Andy displayed some quality tennis skills to beat David Ferrer in four sets 6-3 6-7 6-2 6-3. However, the match that really caught the attention of the viewers around the world was his semi-final clash against the rising star Milos Raonic. It was a titanic five set battle in which Andy came back from a one set deficit, two separate times in the match. Andy finally prevailed in their SF battle with a 4-6 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-2 victory.
A look ahead
Losing to the same man and failing to win the final match yet again has set a negative and discoursing vibe around the Scott. However, there were plenty of positives from these two weeks and the previous year which can prepare Andy for the season ahead and propel him into victory at other majors and at Rod Laver arena next year.
Andy will soon become a dad and experience a feeling like no other. A positive and happy mind off-court can really help Andy develop composure and calmness, which is probably the only trait he needs to be crowned champion down under.