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Player tactics

By Dan Thorp
LTA coach

Andy Murray is best described as a counter-puncher.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray lures his opponents in for the kill

Counter-punchers like to soak up pressure from their opponents before seizing the right opportunity to strike.

It works well as a strategy: players will often make mistakes when they are continually forced to take the initiative in the rally.

When Murray is involved in a baseline exchange, he will often appear to be quite passive to begin with.

Then once his opponent becomes used to a slow rally, a sudden injection of pace is often enough to win him the point.

There are two plays that he favours particularly:

Andy Murray

The slice cross-court is a tough shot to deal with as it often lands quite short dragging his opponent into the court and wide.

The low bounce and lack of pace forces his opponent to increase the speed of the ball without giving him enough opportunity to hit a winner.

After several slices cross-court Murray will suddenly spot the right moment to strike.

The shot to look out for is the backhand down the line.

Murray hits his backhand down the line harder and flatter than just about any player on the tour.

And when his opponent is expecting to be pulled short and wide with no pace it is pretty much unreturnable.

Andy Murray

Murray likes players to attack into his forehand.

He can hit with great pace both cross-court and down the line, so understandably players will look to hit to his backhand early in the rally.

Murray gets around this by using the backhand slice down the line.

The low skidding ball is tough to deal with on the forehand and his opponents are forced to try and attack cross-court.

Hitting down the line would be too risky as there is less court to play with.

This, however, plays into Murray's hands. He knows that the cross-court shot is coming and he races to retrieve it.

Now he's in a great attacking position; the ball is on his big forehand, he can hit up the line, back across court or hit a drop shot.

And his opponent is in a vulnerable position as they are up the court and chasing back from their previous shot.

So again after soaking up pressure and forcing his opponent to commit to an attack he is then able to suddenly go on the offensive.

The shot to watch out for? Probably the wrong-footing forehand back cross-court.


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