Andy Murray’s form in 2017 has been below par to say the least, but he is through to the quarter-finals of the French Open, facing Kei Nishikori later today.
The Scot has put his good form down to no longer over-analysing his game and getting back to the basics.
Murray has recently begun working with coach Ivan Lendl again, for the first time since the Australian Open, and his form has returned.
When the two were apart, Murray lost five out of 10 matches.
Under Lendl’s tutelage, Murray shot to the world number one spot and enjoyed his most successful year of his career in 2016.
While his form has returned at the French Open, he’s not quite hitting the levels he found last year.
Murray says that getting back to the basics is harder than it may sound, and anyone who has suffered from a loss of form and confidence will know this is true.
“It sounds simple, but it is not,” he said.
“A lot of the time when things are not going well, you start over-thinking it. You start wanting to try new things on the practice court, changing tensions in your racket. You try all sorts of things to work out what is going wrong.
“And the one thing we did when Ivan got here, we went right back to basics.
“The drills we were doing were all very basic, pretty simple drills, but we spent a lot of time on the court.”
Murray’s work on the courts with Lendl seems to be working, but it must have been a slog.
His return to form must be proof that dedication and hard work to pay off in the end.
“We hit lots of balls. No time in the gym, really. It was just tennis, plain tennis, and literally getting back to doing the basics right. Making a lot of balls, making myself difficult to beat.
“And then once you start to do that and you get through a couple of matches, you start feeling better and your confidence grows. Your game can be right down at the bottom and it can go right up to the top pretty quickly – that has been the case so far this tournament.”
Murray has suggested that he feels even better than he did this time last year, in which he made the final of Roland Garros – losing out to Novak Djokovic in the final.
“And I came in playing a lot of tennis so the body probably feels a little bit better than it did last year.”
There’s a good chance that we will see Murray in the semi-finals of the French Open, too, as Nishikori is carrying a groin problem.
The Japanese number one (ranked eighth in the world) has been struggling during this tournament, but he has beaten Murray before – a thrilling five-set match in the quarter-final of the US Open last year.
Speaking of the tough battle that lies ahead, Nishikori had this to say:
“When we play it’s always a battle. For sure, it’s gonna be a tough one”.
Do you think Murray will beat Nishikori? Can the Scot go on and win the French Open? Let us know in the comments.