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It wasn’t all that long ago that Murray claimed he wasn’t going to compete in the clay-court season. But after watching him against Shapovalov last night, his hunger for the game is as strong as it has ever been. I must admit, seeing that Murray was going to compete in Madrid was fantastic news! Despite his injuries, he is still one of the most talented players out there.
And when he puts together the kinds of performances that he has during his first two Madrid Open matches, he is a joy to watch. Believe it or not, his win against Thiem in the opening round was his first on clay for a whole five years! That’s simply staggering when you see the kind of tennis he’s been playing so far this week.
Following his win against Shapovalov, Murray is now facing a clash against the world number one, Novak Djokovic. The two haven’t met since 2017 – a game that Djokovic won in three sets. But despite such a lengthy break from playing one another, this will be the 37th time they have clashed on a court! Amazing records from both guys I have to say.
And following his win last night, many are daring to ask the question, is Murray actually getting back to his best? I’ve shared my thoughts below.
Andy Murray Rolling Back the Years in Madrid
There was plenty of anticipation surrounding the Murray vs Thiem game in the opening round. But after he dispatched Thiem, in all honesty, many thought he would be turned over by Shapovalov. Obviously, Murray had different ideas, and he battled past Shapovalov in a three-set thriller. And in my opinion, Murray was showing some fantastic signs that he was getting back to his top form. Here are the main things I noticed:
Ability to Hang in Rallies
After his hip surgery, I feel that this has been a major issue for Murray, especially against the big guys. He simply couldn’t sustain the intensity of moving side to side and changing direction when necessary. But against Shapovalov, sure, he maintained a deep court position, but I was seriously impressed with his movement. This is true concerning his lateral movement and his movement up the court too.
Back in the day, Murray was one of the most confident players out there. In the big moments, you just knew he would deliver something special. However, again, since the injury, this hasn’t been strictly true. With that said, against both Thiem and Shapovalov, Murray was consistent and actually, pretty clutch on the big points. He seemed confident with his ball-striking from the back of the court too – another thing that bodes well.
Murray rose to the top of the game not only for his ball-striking but also for his incredible court craft. His choice of shot was always something special, and in Madrid so far, I’ve been amazed at his court craft. His slice backhand has been fantastic, he has played the drop shot at the right times, and he has been willing to hit heavy and high from the back of the court when required.
Back to his best? It’s a little early to say. But the Djokovic match will be a great indicator!