Archive for the ‘Muzz’ Category

11 Jan 2013

Andy Murray 2013

More and more, team sports are having the Grand Narrative stripped away but advanced statistics, critical thinking, and maybe a bit of common sense. Words like momentum seem trivial and silly in the face of statistics, and wins typically come down to the better team winning, and maybe just pure luck.

Tennis will forever be a place of great stories. To deny the idea of confidence in a team of 12-50 individuals is sensible, to deny the idea of confidence in an individual is impossible.

Last year, after winning the gold medal in London on the hallowed ground of Wimbledon, Andy Murray sat before a Toronto press room after a whirlwind of attention back home. While he insisted nothing had really changed, there was a calm, exhausted relief to his demeanour. It wasn’t a grand slam title, but it was a major break through, even more so as a representitive of the United Kingdom in an international competition.

That he went on to win the US Open will go down in tennis lore. Rebounding from a crushing defeat in the Wimbledon final, Murray battled his demons to win the gold medal on the very same court, and harnessed the momentum to a US Open title. It all fits nicely into a shiny box, and why shouldn’t it?

With that said, 2013 is a new year for Andy Murray. Writers and commentators will continue the story with ease, and may make Murray the favourite to win the title in Melbourne.

These assumptions would go against all of what we have learned about Andy Murray, and the years of evidence that exist outside of a stretch of success that brought him to his first grand slam title. Murray is still a player prone to mental lapses and bouts of frustration. He can at times play down to an opponents level. He can crack under the pressure of big moments (he nearly did in the US Open final before Djokovic collapsed under the weight of himself).

While 2012 was the biggest year of his career so far, when all is said and done, 2013 may end up being the most important year for him. Right now Murray is a great player, but must make his stamp on history through major titles won, not weeks in the top 4 of the rankings. While he will remain a long shot for Roland Garros, he has a legitimate chance at the other three major titles. It is not ridiculous to say that it would be a disappointing year for him if he did not win at least one of these.

Sweeping generalizations of a “new era” of men’s tennis are a bit much, but we have most definitely come to a time where Murray can swoop in and begin to pluck at some of the major titles he has most desperately (and patiently) waited for. First stop: Melbourne. Show us what you’re made of, Andy.

The Big Hurt

Posted by Brodie under: Cincinnati, Muzz, Nole

22 Aug 2011

Over the years, the schedule for the ATP has been revised to try and save the health of the top players and prevent injuries, including finishing off the year earlier this year to create a longer off-season.

The schedule did not anticipate a single player going eight months without losing, however.

It’s been difficult to look for the relevancy of other players this year when week after week only one man remains on the top of the podium in the biggest events. In what feels like a struggle of man vs. tour as the defeated look to find a way to overcome the unbeatable, both have collapsed under the weight of themselves.

Djokovic looked tired at the end of last week, make no doubts about it. But when you’re striking the ball so well and so cleanly, and moving nearly as well, it doesn’t much matter. Boat loads of confidence in your ability doesn’t hurt either. For me, this week was all about the collapse. Playing day after day in Montreal and then traveling to Cincinnati to try and do it all over again was simply not going to happen.

First it looked like Monfils would do it. Down a set, Djokovic was having trouble on the return and his footwork look like he had a pair of iron shoes on in comparison to the energy he’s given off in previous tournaments. Instead, Monfils once again imploded under the pressure, frustration, and passivity of his own goofball patterns of play. Next? Berdych, the big serving Czech who saw a resurgence in Montreal last week. Up 5-3 in the first set, he mentally and physically checked out as his shoulder betrayed him and he was forced to retire after losing the first 7-5 due to a bum shoulder.

Then came the final, where Djokovic, propped up only due to the failures of his previous opponents, was forced to take on a relatively fresh Murray.

Murray’s path to the final looks nearly comically similar. A recently returned Nalbandian (who I believe has now had more hip surgeries than all four of my grandparents combined), American journeyman Alex Bogomolov who defeated a worn down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was injured trying to defeat, you guessed it, Djokovic the week before. Beyond that, a not so healthy Gilles Simon, an equally mentally and physically exhausted Mardy Fish who was ground to a dust by Djokovic in the Montreal final, and who defeated a brain damaged Rafael Nadal (mostly thanks to Djokovic) in the Cincinnati quarterfinals.

The moral of this story? Djokovic’s presence is being felt in more places than just those who he defeats round after round. Injuries aren’t helping anyone either, and while you can’t say that Djokovic’s dominance has pushed other guys to their physical limit, it sure feels that way.

If Djokovic dominance, injuries, crazy weather and other surprises continue a week from now, it is going to be one crazy ride in Flushing Meadows.

30 Jun 2011

Nadal’s Tournament So Far: Defeated: Fish, Delpo, Muller, Sweeting, Russell.

What Rafa Needs To Do: It hasn’t been breezy, but Rafa once again has himself in another Wimbledon semifinal. Getting this far never seemed too much in doubt, but Delpo definitely gave him a scare and Fish woke him up when he won a set.

For Rafa, things are pretty obvious. Keep that serve big, make sure the forehand is working and placing balls where he needs it, and be ready for a fight (which he always is). I think it’s safe to say that Rafa isn’t quite at the level he was from last year, and he’s got health issues that threaten to derail his run. He’ll need his A game for sure.

Murray’s Tournament So Far: Defeated: Lopez, Richie, Ljubicic, Kamke, Gimeno-Traver.

What Murray Needs To Do: It’s felt like Andy’s run to the semis has been easy. Routine. The draw helped him out, and it was simple. Right?

Partially. I think it’s safe to say that Andy’s draw could have been a whole lot worse, and wasn’t. At the same time, he’s dealt with Feli’s big serve, Richie’s variety, and Ljubicic’s Mr. Cleanness and made them look pretty routine. Those are definitely opponents who will ask the question of the big names, and Muzz has been ready to answer back right away.

It’s always a different beast, the business ends of slams, when only the cream of the crop remain. But I really do think Muzz is looking confident and solid. He had a fantastic clay season, looked comfortable, and looks absolutely fine with the pressure of Wimby.

In terms of his game and strategy, his serve is going to need to be cracking. If he starts having trouble on his serve consistently, it’s not going to be pretty. He will also need his backhand, probably his greatest weapon, which has been able to neutralize Rafa’s forehand in the past.

I’m going out on a crazy on this one and calling Muzz in 5 grinding sets.

For those who missed it, I asked on Twitter for people to send in their thoughts on who would win both semifinals, and how many sets it would take. Here’s the results. Whoever correctly picked both winners and respective total set count will get a follow Friday! Here’s the results from this match.

Rafa in 5: 4 total: @DancingPanda1, @jonscott9, @GVTennisNews, @elliejackson1
Rafa in 4: 14 total: @jeannab64, @delpotweeties, @nidsserz, @ljkingy, @stephinNZ, @marpal38, @omes_tennis, @ember_42, @sharapovanovic, @EllieFM, @rosso_neri, @AdjustingTheNet, @clairtennisfan, @emmpahickey
Rafa in 3: 3 total: @omygravy, @RacquetRequired, @DiscoDebMKE

Andy in 5: 4 total: @mitchjos, @sheilokavieira, @anna_tennisfan, @MindTheRacket
Andy in 4: 8 total: @BraveThinkSol, @tenniswatch, @ruthlesscourt, @Ms_Art_House, @R0si, @Daszmarelli, @zbrain, @Daily_Scores
Andy in 3: None

4. Andy Murray

Posted by Brodie under: Muzz, SW19

21 Jun 2011

Weapons: Playing well of late, excellent returning, fantastic defense
Weaknesses: Random brain lapses, bonus hometown pressure

Andy will likely be one of the top 4 to land in the final 4, but he needs to sort it out in the business end. Andy has looked like a dear in the headlights the past two years, fighting valiantly, but really just losing crucial points, and losing out. Luckily for him, his draw is fantastic, and another semifinal showdown vs. Rafa might just go his way. Rafa isn’t quite the player he was last year, and Muzz seems to slowly be figuring out his brain and his concentration out. Look for a great match-up in the semis between Rafa and Andy, I think.

Sticky Situation

Posted by Brodie under: Headbandian, Muzz, Paris

11 Nov 2010

I’m blogging? Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

It’s true, I haven’t forgotten about this place. I’ve just been so damn busy, I’ve had to awkwardly place it aside and hope no one’s noticed. Regardless, I’ll have lots of time in December to attempt to entertain you/remind you of my existence with some year wrap-up posts, some lists, and some fun stuff. I hope to watch a solid amount of London next week too, since it’s at a pretty reasonable time for me. In the meantime…

Nalby/Muzz on a Wednesday? Yes please.

There’s something special about Nalby knowing that he’s playing better than his opponent, and his ability to pick them apart regardless of the surface. It’s got to be heaven for coaches. “Yes, be aggressive. Down the line? Perfect. Wow, I didn’t even think of that.”

There’s something equally as special as watching top 4 Andy Murray play, dumb, defensive tennis.

In the end, Muzz got his business together, got attacking, and got Nalby headcasing late in sets, and that was pretty well the match. As much as something could be said for Nalby’s collapse, we have to realize that Muzz is still the favourite, and his ability to get his head in the game, get on the attack, and play consistent and generally attacking tennis outside of his comfort zone on a psycho slick surface is impressive.

Next up for Andy is Marin. Last time they played?

Yeah. Marin made the semis of a slam. This year. Wot?

Overall, the draw is looking fun and Andy and Fed look like they’re on a crash course for a semi showdown barring any sort of freak accident. The other half, however, is a bit more stacked and features some great matchups. Definitely a nice draw and tourney to throw down right before the year ending WTF and Davis Cup final.

15 Aug 2010

Muzz Toronto

“This is one of the best weeks of my life”. I bet it is, Muzz.

As you all know it hasn’t been the easiest season for Andy. After the AO final he seemed to have lost his confidence and results didn’t come as expected. He had an awful clay season and once again failed to reach the final in Wimbledon. So, it’s actually nice to have him back. And smiling.

I wasn’t expecting much from him considering the draw (Rafa’s half, Sod’s quarter and Nalby somewhere in the middle of that mess), but I’m glad to have been proven wrong. He played some amazing tennis during this week.

Muzz won his first ATP title of the year and is the first player to win back-to-back Canadian titles since Agassi in 1994-95.

It wasn’t an amazing and exciting final. Weather didn’t help and the match was suspended due to rain a couple of times. There were five service breaks and a lot of unforced errors in the 1st set, but Muzz eventually prevailed. He blew another break lead in the 2nd set but broke Federer at 5-all closing out the match on his first chance.

He defends his title and ranking by beating Federer and Nadal along the way (first time he did it) without dropping a set! Many of you might say Roger is not at his best or Rafa’s not as good on hard courts, but you have to give him credit. Did I mention he also beat Nalby? Yep, dude just got back from an injury but was also playing some high quality tennis. This is huge and I’m sure Andy is facing Cincinnati and most importantly US Open with renewed confidence. Even though you might not be a fan, this is great for the sport.

Cincinnati has already started and as the 4th seed he gets a 1st round bye. I’m really curious to see how he’ll handle things after winning Rogers Cup. The ranking is at stake with Soderling really close to the #4 spot and depending on results from both, USO seeding might change.

Bits And Pieces

Posted by Brodie under: Muzz, Nails, Rafa, SW19

28 Jun 2010

Andy Murray is the only man remaining to have not lost a set, AND the only man remaining to have not played a 5-setter. Well bloody hell. He looked pretty comfortable in the first set, then a bit awkward… and then won on fitness and defense. He’s got things to work on, but regardless, is still looking pretty good.

What did I say we learned from week one? That Fedal have been off, the Andys have not. So Dick goes ahead and loses, and Fed and Rafa absolutely cruise against clearly lesser opponents. Fine. The fun? They’ve both got their hands full against familiar and annoying opponents. Berd and Sod. After the match, the guy interviewing Rafa told him “good luck” on his Sod match. He replied “thanks, I’ll need it”. I guess I don’t really need to say much more.

Guess who is still winning? Nails! She’s tapped T-Haas’ old coach and fitness trainer of late, and apparently it’s working. Unfortunately for her, she gets Serena next, but don’t count her out just yet. Maria was close… and Nails took her out in Birmingham and was damn impressive. In fact, she’s probably the fourth in line to beat Serena on grass, behind Venus, Kim, and Masha.

Oh, and Kaia, Pironkova, Kvitova, and… Bepa? You’re good, aren’t you? Anyway, they’re in the quarters. There’s always gotta be one quarter where some randoms come out. I actually kinda like it.

Day 2 Presser Gems

Posted by Brodie under: Blah, Masha, Muzz, Presser Gems, Rafa, Serena, SW19

22 Jun 2010

Q. In your own mind, was this the start of the defense of your title, the title you couldn’t defend last year?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t have to defend nothing, no one point. All the points are in positive for me in this tournament. I go day to day. For me was a very good victory today. Was difficult opponent, I think. And, sure, next round it will be very difficult against very dangerous serve like Robir Haase.
I don’t feel like a defense of the title. Roger has to defend that. I have the chance to defend 2008. I didn’t play for the knee. So that’s the sport. Right now I gonna try my best.

Q. Physically, how are you at this point?
JAMES BLAKE: The knee is not great. If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain.
I’m doing my best. We’re doing everything we can. It’s just getting pretty frustrating. We’re trying everything, so hopefully soon we’ll find the solution and make it so it’s better.

Q. Is that as good as you’ve felt since Melbourne?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. I felt I was definitely in the right frame of mind for the match. You know, I felt when I went behind, I mean, it’s not the best start, but I felt calm, you know. Just, you know, found a way to get myself back into the match.
So I wouldn’t say it’s the best that I’ve felt since Melbourne, but it’s a good start.
Read the rest of this entry »

4. Andy Murray

Posted by Brodie under: Muzz, SW19

20 Jun 2010

Weapons: Home field advantage, mom is courtside, seems incredibly comfortable.
Weaknesses: Media pressure, has to play aggressively.

Stick this in your Wimbley pipe and smoke it. Each time Muzz has played Wimbledon, he’s made it one round further, starting with a run to the third round in 2005. Could this finally be the year? For all the talk about the pressure put on Andy by the press, he seemed incredibly comfortable last year, once he was able to settle into his matches. Not to mention the tennis press will be busy with other story lines (Fedal, Dick) as well as the British press being busy with the World Cup. That sure can’t hurt. If there’s to be any tournament where Muzz will come out full steam, it’s to be this one.

Vid Me Up: Cuter Than Thou

Posted by Brodie under: Muzz, Vid Me Up

15 Jun 2010

If you don’t find this at least mildly entertaining, cute, or heart-warming, you officially have no soul.

Mind The Racket Podcast:

Episode 7 – US Open Week 2 Wrap-Up