Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Murray more like McEnroe than Lendl

Even though he trains under Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray is more like his coach's rival John McEnroe, at least when it comes to his on-court demeanor and Grand Slam preference.

As a player, Lendl was a fitness junkie who punished his opponents from the baseline, returning everything to wear his opponents down before ripping a winner past them. This description sounds a lot like Murray, who Lendl helped to win his first major at the U.S. Open earlier this week, avoiding the dubious distinction of going his coach one better by losing his fifth consecutive Grand Slam final before winning one.

However, whereas Lendl would probably say that his favorite surface was clay - his first of eight Grand Slam titles was the 1984 French Open, where he came from 2 sets down to beat (ironically) McEnroe - Murray unabashedly proclaims that the U.S. Open is his favorite slam; he won the boys' title on the hard-courts of Flushing Meadows in 2004. This probably comes as a surprise to Britishers, who might naturally assume that the green grasses of Wimbledon - where he won the 2012 Olympics Gold Medal - is his favorite. Obviously, McEnroe would dub his home courts in New York, where he won his first (1979) and most (4) slam(s), his favorite as well.

What tips the similarity scale away from Lendl and towards McEnroe is Murray's on-court behavior. While not quite as brash or offensive as "Johnny Mac", Murray is frequently unhappy on the court, yelling profanities ("eff me!") and other self-critical admonishments which can be quite unpleasant to have to watch. Much like McEnroe, his matches are too often cringe-worthy, and a sharp contrast to Lendl's stoic emotionless demeanor, which remains in tact today.

As the first Brit to win a men's Grand Slam singles in 76 years, perhaps Murray can finally relax, settle down and learn even more from his coach and the other members of the big four (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic) about how to behave, now that he's joined them as a major championship winner.

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