What happened? Bad day at the office? Rough night? What kind of excuse could Nadal (2 in the world) and Murray (4 in the world) possibly invent to explain such miserable performances away.
Well, in reality they don’t need any. We should be surprised that they win as many matches as they do in such a tough, competitive and injury-prone sport such as tennis. We never marvel when they pull off hard-fought wins, but we complain when they are beaten by guys who are good and can play with absolutely no pressure.
Both Ivan Dodig and Kevin Anderson are very competent players that don’t need much of an introduction. They have big serves, hit hard, like to attack and are dangerous to anyone, even the likes of Murray and Nadal. Besides, it’s the first match in a while.
Nadal fought for three hours and came up short despite being in the lead for most of the matches. He has one of the strongest tennis minds on tour, but on that day Dodig wanted it more, went for more, and was more mentally fresh. No need to over-analyze, these things happen.
For Murray the 6-3 6-1 loss is a bit more of a worry sign. Anderson played great tennis of course, but even so, it’s a lot different losing two tie-break sets like Nadal did, then getting four games.
Murray isn’ known to have the best tennis mind on the tour and for every year we’re reminded of this as much as we’re reminded of his brilliant shot-making, excellent thinking on the court, and soft hands.
Sometimes Murray isn’t there.
The biggest critique against is game is obvious – he’s playing too defensively against guys he should beat. He should let guys like Anderson dictate play so much, because if they get in to the zone, things can go bad quickly.
I’ve been complaining about Murray’s tentativeness for a long time now, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe he doesn’t have the game to attack more. Something that seems so obvious for an outsider such as myself.
No matter what his problem his, he needs to get into a better mental shape for the next Masters tournament. Nadal will be there and he will be fighting for the title, Murray I’m not so sure.