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Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray’s defeat by Roger Federer will spur him on | Greg Rusedski

8th July 2012

Losing in the final is hard to take but Britain’s No1 is on the right track to break his major duck and will come back stronger

Every player gets defined by winning a major and, when you get so close to achieving your dream before it’s snatched away, then it’s incredibly tough to take. My defeat in the 1997 US Open final was a bit different from Andy Murray’s on Sunday because it was my first grand slam final and I expected there to be many more.

Yes, it was heart-wrenching but I actually played a tournament the following week in Bournemouth. They flew me out on Concorde the next morning, I got there on the Tuesday and started on the Wednesday. I played four matches, got to the semi-finals and broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time. I got those aches straight out of me. I was on a different trail from Murray because nobody was expecting me to get to the final at Flushing Meadows. It was still painful but nowhere near as painful as it’ll be for Murray.

For Murray it’s four grand slam finals now. It gets harder and harder mentally with every defeat. Sundaywas the best two sets of tennis I’ve seen him play and he was still only one set apiece against the greatest man to have ever played the game. That’s why we saw the emotion and tears at the end because he must have been thinking: “What do I need to do? I’ve worked so hard, I’ve put in the hours, I’ve hired Ivan Lendl as my coach, the whole crowd’s backing me and I still couldn’t get it done.” It’ll take him a few weeks to get over, if not longer. The first thing I’d do if I was Murray would be to put my rackets away, go on holiday and not think about tennis for a while.

Two things happen to a player after a big defeat; it either makes you more motivated and hungry or you go on a negative spiral. I think in Murray’s case it’ll be the former, because there’s no doubt he’s heading in the right direction. The serve is better, the forehand is stronger and he’s being more aggressive. But he has to do that for three out of five sets. He did it so well for two sets against Roger Federer but he couldn’t continue at that pace. When he lost the second set he doubted himself fractionally and, if you do that against Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, you’re going to come out second best. Just a small drop in intensity can make a big difference. You have to stay on top of the top players completely.

If you look at the first two sets, Murray was right on the baseline, going toe-to-toe with Federer. In the third and fourth sets Murray was the one being pushed back. To use a boxing analogy, it’s like two heavyweight fighters: neither can afford to take a step backwards. That’s unfortunately what happened to Murray out there. If he’d continued to stay aggressive, we’d probably be talking about a fifth set with Murray possibly now the Wimbledon champion.

But the third set was crucial in terms of the momentum. The guy who wins the third set usually goes on to win the match. That was the key moment.

The rain played a big part in that shift. Under the roof Federer came out firing and took it to Murray. Playing indoors is ideal for Federer because it allows him not to have to deal with any sun and wind, so he can take the ball even earlier and go for the lines. He handled it much better and felt more comfortable in those conditions.

At times Murray’s serve let him down. His service percentage looked great statistically but on the big points he needed a little more variety in terms of using the slice and the body serve. That’s what Federer did slightly better. Emotionally, there’s no question that Murray’s improved but with Federer you could turn on the TV and from the first ball to the last ball you wouldn’t know what the score was. That’s where the top three guys have that bit more than Murray. He can’t show them that he’s getting disheartened or frustrated out there but he’s starting to get it.

These are all small areas to clean up and Murray’s got to keep doing what he’s doing. Lendl is the right man to help and he will come into his own now. He’ll look at the tapes and show Murray what went well and not so well. Lendl lost his first four grand slam finals before going on to win eight majors, so Murray has got the right man in his corner to console him. I’m sure he will be back in the Wimbledon final if he continues to work hard. He’s on the right path. He should hold his head up high and be proud of what he’s accomplished. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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