Moody Murray No Longer?

The public perception of Andy Murray both on and off the court has always been a little strained.

He has established an on court persona which has led many to believe he is just a spoilt kid with a lot of talent. This perception has always seemed immensely unfair to me given the circumstances existant within contemporary tennis. He is, as we are constantly reminded, still a young man. Not only this but he is a young man that is desperate to achieve highly in what is arguably the most competitive era that men’s tennis has ever seen. To outclass and outshine all comers and then fail to jump the final hurdle against the likes of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic must hurt him. As such it must be incredibly frustrating for a talented individual like Murray who arguably would have already won a handful of Grand Slam titles if he were competing in a slightly weaker era.

Murray beginning to show a lighter side

Such frustration does tend to manifest itself in on-court agitation and tantrums, but this is true of legends such as John McEnroe also. Could it be that such strops became rather an endearing quality within McEnroe’s game? There was certainly a greater air of comedy about his personal outbursts and umpire conflicts than Murray’s expressions of his own low temper threshold. Is Murray really that much more negative though that he is deserving of the wave of stick that he tends to be subjected to? Perhaps not.

In addition to his on-court problems, Murray has forever endured public scrutiny for his media relations. Of course we would love all the world’s major sports stars to be at ease in front of the media and rattling out streams of memorable press conferences, but that simply isn’t Murray. It is not in his nature. Naturally he is a fairly shy man off the court and as such he doesn’t exactly relish being constantly thrust into the gaze of the media. He has needed to accept that such attention comes as part of the package of status and privilege, but still it is hardly surprising that he often loathes such spotlighted treatment.

Downcast Murray in a Press Conference

Murray has become accustomed to such criticism, however, in recent times he has seemed to break these shackles. Whether this is resultant of a conscious decision to boost his public image or not is unclear. One thing is clear though, and that has been this recent transition and increasing popularity.

Maybe such a transition can be attributed to an ever-increasing realisation that Murray is well and truly up against it. Perhaps the public are merely beginning to demonstrate a greater understanding of the depth of competition which Murray must face in order to go on and win a Slam. Couple this understanding with Murray’s improving on-court temperament and the predicament begins to make more sense.

We know for sure that Murray has invested time in improving the psychological side of his game. This has included meetings with fellow British sporting talents such as David Haye, a man Murray admires greatly. Scarcely could you encounter two sports men with more differing approaches to the media spotlight, and the very fact that Murray has sought Haye out could be indicative of his desire to enhance his public image. It could well be that such meetings and advice have contributed to Murray’s recent exhibitions of ‘show-boating’ on the court.

This has been evident in his recent grass-court victories over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Ivan Ljubicic. These performances have seen Murray unleash what is in danger of becoming a trademark shot where he elegantly performs something of a step-over combined with the cheekiest of dinks through his legs. Such ‘peacock-ing’ in high profile victories is something which requires immense confidence and self-belief coupled with a desire to entertain beyond the call of duty. Perhaps this arrogant edge and willingness to amuse the public is a major sign of Murray’s growth into a greater sporting personality.

His now famous Trick Shot

Murray has dismissed his new trick shot as just something which he does to mess around in training and something which he is scared will make him look a “plonker”. So far in competitive matches though it has a 100% record of success as each of these audacious strokes have been winners.One would think that if he continues to play the role of the exhibitionist that  it will provide himself and the media with a point of interest for all that surrounds his game, something which is likely to allow Murray to gain admirers.

After a couple of days away form the court Murray will have to return on Monday to take on the wiley Richard Gasquet in what on paper appears to be a very tough and attractive match. We await to see if he will again take on the role of chief entertainer as the anticipation and hopes of the nation begin to reach fever pitch once again.

Can Murray prove he is worth his mint?

Andy Murray has this week set out on yet another quest to bring the Grand Slam glory days back to British tennis. He today progressed into round three with a more than convincing straight sets victory over an out-of-sorts Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The next round sees Murray going head to head with Jurgen Melzer, the start of a potentially treacherous route to Australian Open glory for the in-form Scot. Melzer is a tricky draw for Murray who could potentially go on and face number 4 seed Robin Soderling in the quarters, world number 1 Rafael Nadal in the Semis and a re-match with Roger Federer in the final.

Spotlight on Britain's only hope...yet again..

Such a potentially tricky route for Murray is testament to the strength of the men’s game at the moment. The fact that it is necessary to defeat arguably the two greatest players of all time, the fourth seed and the world number 11 in order to win a Grand Slam as a fifth seed is indicative of just how high the level is right now.

Murray, having strolled through his first three matches, will be strong favourite to defeat the dangerous Jurgen Melzer. However, it is vital that Murray doesn’t get too complacent. If he does we could well see a repeat of the embarrassment he suffered at the hands of Stan Wawrinka at last years US Open. Murray went into that game having been untroubled in the earlier rounds, and as soon as things started to go against him he lost his head and started to throw the proverbial ‘toys out of the pram’.

Murray seems to have already developed something of a reputation for not having the will or the means with which to go on and succeed in Grand Slam tennis, I for one believe this to be entirely unjust. Murray has already won several more titles than his predecessor as Britain’s finest , Tim Henman, and he is only 23. He has a fantastic record for one so young, and it is only the mind-blowing achievements of his peers such as Nadal that have highlighted his inability thus far to win a Grand Slam.

Being a British tennis fan has for a long while now required a lot of patience. I believe Murray is indeed demonstrating everything it takes to become a major champion and I hope that this patience won’t have to go on for too much longer. He is an exceptional sporting talent and we as fans of Great British tennis should cherish this, I myself can’t wait for the doubters to be proved wrong.

Glamour-Boy Haye Bringing Back The Glory Days For The Heavyweight Division?

Last weekend David Haye destroyed friend-turned-foe Audley Harrison in just three rounds at the MEN Arena, Manchester. Though Haye won in convincing fashion it is still in doubt whether he is the man to rescue the Heavyweight Division from it’s years spent in the wilderness of Eastern-Europe.

Haye has an abundance of confidence and swagger that suggest that perhaps he is capable of bringing back the glory days for the big boys of the boxing world but is he really capable of living up to the likes of Mohammed Ali? Perhaps it is unfair to compare anyone to the justifiable arrogance and poetic genius of Ali but in order to drag this weight division out of the doldrums surely there is no one better for Haye to aspire to. Ali is the pinnacle and Haye would do well to follow in his wondrous footsteps.

Of course Haye is far from achieving the legacy left by Ali but if what he is saying is true then his aim to unify the Heavyweight division and become a boxing great must be done within a year. His ambition to have successfully achieved this by the age of 31 is at least refreshing in a division that has for a decade been dominated by the ageing Ukrainian brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko who hold the other World Heavyweight belts despite being well into their 30’s. In an era of aged Heavyweights battling it out for the world titles Haye is seeking a rapid change of the guard before leaving the sport to pursue a career in the media spotlight.

Haye has alluded to following the likes of Vinnie Jones out of the professional sporting world and into films and television stating that if “Vinnie can do it then why can’t [he]?” I can’t help but feel that if Haye does indeed manage to unify the division within a year that he would be doing the sport that he loves an injustice if he were to turn his back on it having offered just a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a seemingly never ending tunnel for Heavyweight boxing. For a man with such talent and such power to throw away the opportunity of re-igniting what should be boxing’s premier weight class with an extended stay at the top would without doubt be a huge disappointment to fans of the sport.

Haye has the the talent, presence and self-belief of an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World and the poster boy of British Sport and World Boxing but is he asking too much of himself? Can he honestly leave a lasting impression on the world of Boxing within a year as he so wishes? A lot of questions will remain unanswered about just how good Haye is if he leaves the sport having won the titles but not having defended them.

The Heavyweight Division has been lacking any flair or personality for what seems like an eternity and global viewing figures have dramatically leaned towards the lighter and more fast paced weight divisions in recent years. Without the ‘Hayemaker’ the future looks bleak and Heavyweight boxing seems doomed to a continued era of tired performers defending their belts against inferior opposition.