Wimbldeon blog (MSN)

The Big Three plus Andy

Why Britain's No 1 is not among his sport's true elite

By Duncan Hooper 26/06/2012 10:36

As Andy Murray begins his annual Wimbledon quest for a semi-final place, Jamie Frier explains that the Scot's talent alone is not enough to challenge the trio who monopolise tennis's real prizes


Andy Murray at WimbledonEverybody loves a Big Four. The Premiership, the banking sector, the Allies, Agatha Christie. For some reason, good things come in fours, apart from the banks, obviously. But what about tennis? We hear all the time about ‘The Big Four’ of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, but is this a big four, or a big three plus Murray?



The Premier League analogy is a good one. For nearly a decade, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool dominated the Premiership, but only three of those teams won the coveted title. Liverpool finished second once and that was the closest they came to taking the title.


The same can be said for Andy Murray. He has finished as the runner-up in three Grand Slam finals now, following his defeat in the 2011 Australian Open, and will always seem to be hanging on to the coattails of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer who have shared 28 of the last 29 Grand Slam titles. One of those three have also finished as runner up in 15 of the last 25, showing the utter dominance of the top three.


"Rankings five to about 50 are pretty much separated by talent, whereas one to four are separated by belief in their talent."


True, Murray has won matches against them, he has claimed titles, but the big prize, the Grand Slam, has always eluded him. Unfortunately, great players are always to be measured by their success in Grand Slams and without at least a couple, Murray will always be remembered as that stroppy also-ran. After all, who remembers Guillermo Coria, Magnus Norman or Yevgeny Kafelnikov when making their list of all-time tennis greats?


Unfortunately for Murray, he is completely out on his own. Novak, Rafael and Roger are all streets ahead of him, whilst he is comfortably clear of the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych. On his day, Murray has the talent to mix it with the top guys, but that day comes around all too rarely. He is a better tennis player than the players directly below him, but less consistent than the men directly above him.


"Murray clearly has to battle demons in his head, as well as across the net"


Murray is an unbelievable tennis player, with his trademark sprinting cross-court forehand, his drop shots and his powerful serve, when working. However, upstairs is where the difference is. His trio of adversaries have such a strong mentality and winning habit, they hardly think about the winning line, whereas Murray clearly has to battle demons in his head, as well as across the net. Rankings five to about 50 are pretty much separated by talent, whereas one to four are separated by belief in their talent.


Until Murray is able to consistently crush the lower ranked players he will never challenge for the higher rankings, the higher seedings and the better draw. He has lost to three players outside the world top 50 in the past two years whilst the other three have only one such loss in the same time period (Federer losing to Haas in Halle this month).


Murray needs to have a consistent season to bring him into contention, but at the end of the day, no matter how many ATP 1000 titles he wins, no matter how many times he scraps to wins over Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, no matter how many cries of ‘Come on’ issue from his lips, until he takes a couple of Grand Slam crowns, it will forever be ‘The Big Three + Andy.’

26/06/2012 12:45

What a lot of negative and scathing comments. Why can`t people be more supportive? OK, he is, at times agonising to watch, but he IS out there and he IS trying his best. Can that always be said of his critics? By the way, his "lack of talent" has made him a millionaire... maybe NOT such a saddo after all?


26/06/2012 13:22
Some of you lot should really get a sense of perspective.  The man is one of  the TOP FOUR tennis players in the WORLD!! To speak of him having no talent is just plain stupid. Typical British attitude - if someone doesn't win the big contests they must be a loser. Well in that case we have a helluva lot of losers in this country and we'll see a whole pile of them at the olympics!!
26/06/2012 14:31
I admit Murray can be so frustrating to watch sometimes but at others he's an absolute joy to watch.  He seems to lack mental consistency and that affects his ability to play.  Although opinions differ as to whether he is among the top four or it's a three plus one scenario you cannot take it away from him that he has achieved much more than Tim Henman ever did.  He has worked hard to get where he is and just needs to smooth off the rough edges - he's certainly the best tennis player that the UK has produced to date.  Give him a chance.  It has been said that his injuries are used an excuse for not playing well and only happen when he looses a point - has it ever occured to anybody that the fact that he is injured prevents him for relaxing and playing to his full potential??  It's about time that the british press got behind our sportsmen and women and our athletes instead of always pulling them down - even when they win it is never good enough!!!.
26/06/2012 14:21
Lets hope Murray can improve on his 1st service, as It is still  something of a weakness he has  to improve on. He losses an awful lot of points with his service game. He also seems to be his own worst critic, without others doing there penny worth. If he can stop beating himself up and get his head together, he always has a chance to win a grand slam. Shame he is not an English man. Bit like our football team we need more young talented coached English tennis players.
26/06/2012 12:47
Yes, it would seem that UK is no longer able to produce top flight tennis players,  Murray follows on from Henman and the pseudo brit Rudeski.  Mind you, let's hope that Andy Murray does not follow the Duncan Hooper or Jamie Frier, such negative comment from home country journalists can hardly boost his confidence or self belief.   Or was that the whole idea????
26/06/2012 14:47
26/06/2012 12:53
"Rankings five to about 50 are pretty much separated by talent, whereas one to four are separated by belief in their talent."


I don't agree, the current top 4 rankings reflect the talent the players have. Djokovic at times plays at such a high level even Nadal looks inferior in a base line battle

26/06/2012 16:04

@ banker



26/06/2012 19:46

6-1 6-1 6-4

Well done Andy That's the way to do it.... Now move on.

That must have made all the Murray haters sick....GOOD.

26/06/2012 15:07
Im English so i laugh when he gets beat.
26/06/2012 19:50
Congratulations in advance for making the semi finals again Andy. Better luck next year. If the top 3 are injured...........
26/06/2012 14:27

This is more silly drivel from someone who clearly has too much time on his/her hands.


Whinging, whining, criticising.  PATHETIC


Get behind Murray and support him, lets have something to cheer about in the next few days. He is one of the best Tennis players in the world, and the best that Britain/Scotland has ever produced.


That is why he is in the top four of the rankings, and he will win grand slams, of course he will.





26/06/2012 12:10
Hence the repeated comments that while he is a good player, he is not a great player in the way that the top three are and I suppose that we will soon see the usual comments from the cross the border crew!
26/06/2012 15:21

I see all the LOW-LIFE Murray haters have crawled out from under their stones.

I would be more than happy with his £20 million...How much have any of you  earned in the same timescale?

Buttford and Cleo the prat  You must dream about Murray in your sleep


26/06/2012 15:06
yaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnn....Well here we go again this over rated sweaty sock goes into action and guess what...?  He gets  thrashed and comes away with his usual bulls**t  " Jings ahve gaun an hurt ma back again, och hoots mon whaurs ma mammy " ?  He's not fit to even be Federer's ball boy that's how bad he is..!
26/06/2012 14:33
This whinging loser is so arrogant, he cant see how embarrassing he is to tennis
26/06/2012 13:34
He may not be a top flight player, but by the time he retires, he will have become a very wealthy man. Forget Murray and give your sympathy to the millions of talented unemployed who cannot find employment and are desperate to keep their self respect.
26/06/2012 14:14
Sorry which are the 'big four' in the banking sector? Are you confusing it with the financial services sector?
26/06/2012 11:53
At last !!! Someone is talking sense about Mr Murray's lack of ability to win big time !!!
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