Andy Murray captured his second clay court title within a week at the Madrid Open, sweeping aside Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal with consummate ease. Coach Nick Bollettieri has been very impressed by the Scot...
In Nick Bollettieri's analysis, Andy Murray has never performed at a higher level (and he didn't mean Madrid's altitude). According to Bollettieri, the quality of Murray's tennis during his victory over Rafa Nadal on the clay of La Caja Magica was even greater than "when he won the big ones" at the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.
"Can Murray win the title at Roland Garros? I think Novak Djokovic will have something to say about that. Remember that it's the best of five sets there. But I would say that this is the best I have seen Murray play, right now, and I include when he won the big ones," the American told Wimbledon.com.
Control, Bollettieri said, was key to Murray's first win on the dirt over Nadal, who has gathered nine French Open titles, and who is almost universally regarded as the greatest clay-court player of all time. At the start of the month, Murray had never won a title on the surface, but suddenly, after his runs in Munich and Madrid, he has a couple. He could not have had a more encouraging start to married life (he wrote 'Marriage works' on a camera lens in Madrid) or to his new working relationship with Jonas Bjorkman (though his head coach, Amelie Mauresmo, was in Spain). "Whoever planned his strategy for the match against Nadal, they deserve a lot of credit," Bollettieri said. "And that strategy was to hit the ball early and to keep the pressure on his opponent, and that was exactly what Murray did. Murray was controlling the points. He hit the ball standing on the baseline, which gave Nadal no time. Murray also served brilliantly. He has improved his second serve - there's a big kick on that ball, and Nadal had a tough time getting it back. He was also serving into the body."
Importantly, said Bollettieri, Murray was in control of his emotions. "Murray didn't panic and didn't show any frustration at all. He controlled himself. What I also noticed that he didn't look to the stands - to his team - after every shot. He focused on his play. He is playing brilliant tennis because he is controlling the points and he is controlling his emotions. He was very tough mentally against Nadal. That was a big factor," said Bolletierri, who suggested that Murray's mental fortitude came from his stronger body.
"Remember, when you are strong, you make good decisions. When you're not strong, you make quick decisions and quite often those decisions go against you. This win over Nadal, and the way that Murray is playing, is the result of months of practice, practice, practice, often in the heat. And getting stronger physically. This did not come about overnight."
For all the concern over Nadal's tennis on clay this spring, Bollettieri predicted that the Spaniard will be an altogether different player when he returns to Roland Garros, where he has only ever lost once. "One of the differences between Nadal this year and the previous years is this: previously, the longer that the ball was in play, that favoured Nadal, but this year that's not happening. When Nadal was stretched out wide, he used to come up with brilliant shots, and that's not happening now. His balance is altogether different," said Bollettieri. "It's very unusual to see Nadal getting frustrated and not being the best on a clay court. But remember this - the name of the tournament in Paris is 'Roland Nadal Garros'. His name is in the middle. When he steps on to the red clay in Paris, he is a different person."
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all