May 2015: Andy Murray wins his first clay court Tennis title, in Munich, in a tight match against clay court specialist Phillip Kholschreiber. Can he continue his progress against the same opponent, again on clay in Madrid, a few days later?
Murray is least successful when playing on clay courts surfaces such as Munich and Madrid. He shares this relative weakness with British tennis players who have little experience of the surface as juniors. No Britain before Murray had won a ranking clay court tournament for nearly forty years.
The result at Munich was somewhat surprising, considering Murray’s weakness and Kholschreiber’s comparative advantage on the surface. The return in Munich offered a chance to see whether Murray might sustain the form h showed in Germany.
The context of the Madrid match
There are considerable factors to disconcert Murray. He was recently married with considerable accompanying media pressures. There have also been major changes to his coaching team.
Additional more immediate distractions included a bizarrely late start around one a.m., after inflexible scheduling. Bad for the players and arguably worse for spectators who would expect to be watching well into the early hours of the following day.
Murray starts the faster and moves 3-0 with two breaks before dropping his own serve. Kholschreiber breaks back. Commentator Petchey, formerly Murray’s coach suggests his game plan was for an intense start which had been followed by a dip after the initial adrenaline rush.
Murray wins first set
Andy Murray retains aggressive but not over-aggressive play and holds break to win 6-4. Kohlschreiber demonstrates his strengths on this surface.
Both players playing well. Kholschreiber wins a brilliant lengthy rally and breaks at 2-0.
4-1 2.15 am. Stadium has nearly emptied. Murray holds. Slight dip by Kholschreiber. Drops serve.
Murray also drops serve with poor first- serve percentage
5-3 and closes out
Murray holds a strongly-contested game. Murray breathes heavily at one stage,
Kholschreiber and Murray scramble. Kholschreiber makes last mistake.
2-0 to Murray who then holds serve to love
4-0 as Murray breaks easily.
5-0 as Murray holds
6-0 as Kholschreiber eventually capitulates.
Murray survives and overcomes an unusual set of problems, Kholschreiber eventually weakened both mentally and physically.
Questions for coaches
What factors would you consider in preparing Andy Murray for the match?
Murray appears to have started with a tactical plan. What do you think it might have been?
Why was the lower-ranked Kholschreiber considered a favourite before playing Murray in Madrid, even after his loss to Murray in Munich the previous week?
What aspects of Murray’s game might have contributed to the result in Madrid?