Andy Murray looks like a man on a mission this Wimbledon. He raced through his first four rounds at Wimbledon, before overcoming a spirited challenge from Tsonga in the quarters.
For the first time probably in his career, Murray is the favourite to win a Grand Slam title. This is his title to lose, especially after Djokovic bowed out early, and Federer having struggled with injury woes this season.
However, Murray has often stumbled in the past in the finals of Grand Slams, partly due to his more skilled contemporaries and partly due to his own mental frailties. He has often been up and down mentally in these big matches, which has cost him many times.
Let us have a look at what Murray needs to do differently this time, to come up triumphs and win his third Grand Slam title, and his second Wimbledon title, after his triumph here in 2013.
Overcome his mental block against the Big 3
Murray has made it the semis to Grand Slams an astonishing 20 times in his career. However he has made it to the winners’ podium only twice.
In most of these big matches, he has lost to his more famed rivals in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and recently Novak Djokovic. This time too, he might face Federer in the finals of these Championships.
In order to defeat the seven-time champion, he has to overcome the demons of his past defeats against Federer in big matches. The two have faced each other in three Grand Slam finals and few semi finals, and Federer has won on most occasions, including all three finals.
The last time the two faced each other at Wimbledon was in 2015 at the semifinals stage, where Federer dominated and won in three straight sets.
Murray’s record against Federer in best of three matches has been very good, but somehow he has failed to compete as well against him in the Slams. It is nothing but a mental block which Murray has to overcome.
In his mind, Murray has to stay strong and fight for every point. Often in the past, he has had lapses of concentration which have cost him big when playing the top guys. He can ill afford that come Sunday, especially if he faces Federer in the finals.
Stick to an aggressive game plan, be proactive
Murray’s basic game is defense, based on superior agility and getting the mistakes out of his opponents. This works well against most players except the big 3, who exploit his defensive mindset with their aggressive games.
In the past, especially during the time Murray spent with Ivan Lendl, he made some changes in his approach and started playing a more attacking brand of times. He started hitting his forehand flatter, started going for more on his serves and his overall approach became pro active, rather than waiting for errors from his opponents.
This approach paid rich dividends for him, and yielded two Grand Slam titles and one Olympic Gold medal as the reward. However, after Lendl left, Murray gradually slipped back into his old defensive methods, and has failed to taste major success since then.
Now Lendl is back with Murray, and it has shown in his more pro active approach in the last few days. Murray has looked to come to the net and finish off points shorter. He has also looked to dominate his opponents more and has avoided lulls in concentration, evident in his smooth foray to the quarters of Wimbledon.
Prediction: Murray will win Wimbledon this time
Come Sunday, Murray needs to continue the same, and look to play to win the match, rather than playing not to lose. He needs to play an attacking brand of tennis and put the pressure on his opponent early on in the points.
There does appear to be more belief in Murray this time, and it has shown in the way he has played on grass in his last few matches. If he can keep up his play and keep believing, we will see him with the Wimbledon title in his arms, come Sunday evening. Do not bet against the Scot this time!