It’s tennis season again and once again Andy Murray has our nerves fraught. The more I watch tennis the more I realise that it’s got very little to do with skills or ability or even fitness; no it’s pretty much all in the head.
The game with Rosso where he beat Nadal was a case in point. Amazing performance where his head was in the right place and good enough to beat Nadal.
As with anyone playing at that level, it’s not their skill that will let them down, it’s what’s going on between their ears. It’s all a head game.
Andy has a particularly interesting psyche.
He has recently brought in Ivan Lendl as a coach but I’m not sure it’s a tennis coach he needs. I think he needs someone to show him how his head works. I think he knows all he needs to know about bats and balls.
It’s our heads that make the other side of the court smaller and smaller. And it’s our heads that doubt if we can win the game.
So the next question could be,
Is there a personality type that is most likely to be successful at tennis?
If we look at Federrer, he is North West of the PeopleMaps Map. He is not demonstrative. He is focused and just wants to get the job done. Venus Williams is also found in the North East.
Serena Williams however is the exact opposite. She is South East. Very emotional, full of fun and very expressive,m right down to her very finger nails which she paints as works of art.
Andy is very different. Most likely North East. He likes confrontation. He gets a kick out of being controversial. He doesn’t crave the love of the people. Ironically people cheering him on is probably not helpful. At the French open they were booing him and he loved it and thrived. It’s not by accident that Andy has had very few coaches in his corner. He is not someone you could tell anything to.
Ivan has his work cut out for him. Incidently he is North West. Not sure he will understand Andy’s emotional state as Lendl was one of the most calculated players there ever was. He may try and appeal to Andy with logic but I’m not sure it will get through.
Take the incident with the ball falling out of Andy’s pocket the other night. Instead of only working with one ball, he persevered until it happened again. The decision to do that is not logical. It comes from a pig headedness – and it’s one of Andy’s greatest strengths. He loves when people tell him it can’t be done.
By rights he shouldn’t even be able to play professional tennis due to his many physical problems. Logic should have seen him pack it in years ago. But Andy isn’t running on logic. He is stubborn and contrary. If Ivan figures this out and learns to work with it, then he could create a real champion.
My concern is that he will try and fix his faults. Try and make him more like Ivan. Try and make him more cool and calculated. Better to let him shout and bawl and upset the people around him.
So in answer to the question, “Is there a personality type that is most likely to be successful at tennis?” There isn’t. The trick is that each of these players has learned to play to their own personality. They have learned to be themselves and work with that.
McEnroe has more in common with Andy Murray and would probably understand him better than anyone. I think he would have had more chance of getting inside his head to flick the switch.
Meanwhile I brace myself for the next round.
“Go on Andy go.”
Or more helpfully – “You arse. Bloody eejit. Can’t play for toffee.”