Monday, 17 October 2011

Andy Believes

Thumbs up indeed.
Neutral Omes
One thing I’ve always admired about Andy Murray is the belief he has in himself. Don’t let the grimaces and growls, shoe-lace attacks and sole-smacks on the court fool you – he doesn’t genuinely believe he’s rubbish. That habitual self-deprecation ensues because for every unforced (or indeed forced error) he makes, Andy strongly believes he could have, and definitely should have done better, idiot!
And that’s why he’s one of those guys that relishes a challenge. Whether it’s zapping Novak Djokovic’s winning streak - few players would have been as audacious as he was in taking it to red hot Novak (who was on match no. 37 in the streak at that time) the way he did in the semifinals of Rome (we won’t speak of the losing-despite-being-two-points-away-from-victory malarkey); or boosting the number on his side of a losing head to head battle against Rafa Nadal, bagel and all, to capture the 2011 Tokyo title. Andy Murray isn’t scared of playing anyone. This attitude is why after any loss the first thing you hear Andy say is how fast he’ll be back in the gym - as if to say “there’s always a way, I’m up for the next one”. When he takes to the court, he’s one of those few players that always believes he will win - whether he does is a different matter - but the self assurance is there.
So then how can a guy who believes in himself as much as you claim struggle with aggressive play so much? I hear you say. Well kind fellow, lack of belief in your ability to pull out a win against any player on any given day is different from the lack of belief you have in a certain playing style that’s not necessarily your go-to one - Andy doesn’t suffer from the former. And sometimes, when you face the best defenders in the game, your just not allowed to be aggressive. While in these cases it may be more difficult to win playing defense, for Andy it’s never ever far fetched.
Andy Murray may believe in himself, but I'm not sure he believes that statue is himself.

Much like Federer, Andy has what I would call a ‘decent reserve of natural confidence’ which stems from this deep rooted self-belief, and is different from the sort of confidence that grows and shrinks with form. Other guys like Rafa, believe it or not, need to keep reminding themselves they’re the best with match-play - without which self-doubt can easily creep in. I’m not saying Andy is immune from self-doubt (or indeed that Rafa lacks self-belief), neither am I ignoring the fact that Andy does tune out sometimes and never fails to post those resident questionable losses. But they never make him feel like he’s only as good as the matches he wins, and even when the big loss of 2010 in Melbourne Park saw him lose it for a while, I still maintain it never affected the underlying belief he had in himself.   
It’s interesting, not to mention very revealing that the main reason Andy is happy with his new no. 3 ranking (surpassing Roger Federer for the first time) following a flawless Asian swing, is literally because that’s the best he can do this year due to Rafa and Novak’s stellar results. In his post finals interview with Sky Sports at Shanghai, he stated that he was always aiming for the no. 1 spot at the beginning of the year: 
“[The no.3] is not something that I aimed for at the start of the year – you want to try and finish no. 1 if you can - and after US Open that just wasn’t possible, so I just re-assessed my goals and wanted to try and finish the year no. 3.”
So he’ll take the no.3 but he’s hungry for better. Yes every top player aims for that no. 1 spot, but it just seems Andy genuinely can’t imagine it won’t happen for him. He’s king of the post-Slam season so far, and if he takes this form to 2012 there’s no reason why, much like Novak did this year, he won’t perform the way he believed he could all along. 
(Pics: Getty)

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