The demise of the two Andys, Murray and Roddick, at Queen’s Club on Wednesday, means both men have a few questions to answer as Wimbledon looms large on the horizon. For Murray, it’s about how to get over the line in a grand slam; for Roddick it’s about how to have one last hurrah. Ivan Ljubicic, the former world No 3 and a man who has played both men, offers his advice.
Ljubicic on Murray: “Rafa, Novak and Roger are so good that I think in order to win something important, like a grand slam, you have to attack these guys. You can’t beat them defending. In a way, Andy Murray is having these issues because he is one of the best defenders but I said at Wimbledon when I lost to him last year – and I was hoping it wasn’t going to sound bad – he is always going to be fourth favourite.
“It doesn’t matter how well he plays because his game is so similar, not visually, but so technically similar to these guys; but they are just doing it a little better. But in order for him to win a slam, I’m not saying he needs to change his game but it’s difficult for him to beat two of them back to back. He was close against Djokovic in Australia. I think he has the game.
“I spoke with Miles Maclagan, who was his long-term coach, and I said Miles, I just want to ask you one question, ‘Why is Andy not using his backhand more than he is at the moment?’ I feel it is one of the best backhands on tour, it’s a huge weapon for him in my opinion and I am sure he feels he can be more aggressive with that. He is just relying on his physique, which is great, he is one of the fittest guys on tour. But Novak is playing the exact same tennis as him but he’s just a little better.
“Something has to happen for him to win a slam. I’ve talked with Roger also about it, because these guys win so many matches playing one way, they really feel uncomfortable and are refusing to change it when they need to win. Sometimes it feels they almost prefer to lose it in a way that they want, rather than trying to win and accept the fact that they have to change something. With Andy, why not risk something, say, let’s try to go for bigger second serves, let’s try to go with the backhand crosscourt a little harder, let’s try to maybe go to the net a little more. What is there to lose?’
Ljubicic on Roddick: “I feel like Andy Roddick’s career was damaged because he was focused maybe a little too much on Roger Federer and not trying to win all other matches. The problem is that you just build up this pressure that once it really happens, you are really tense about it. Why worry about it until you get to the final, because it might not happen that you have to play. For a very short period in my career, I was in a similar position, where I played three or finals in a row with Roger, so I was really about thinking about him. It was positive in a way because I wouldn’t lose too much energy or time on other opponents but a danger in the other sense because you do have to think about each opponent.”