Tennis

'I think that's beyond him': Rusedski rules out Andy Murray winning another Slam

Andy Murray can still upset the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in a one-off match but winning a Grand Slam title is ‘beyond him’.

That’s the view of Greg Rusedski, who thinks the physical demands of coming through seven best-of-five set matches is too much for Murray at this stage in his career.

Murray, the three-time Grand Slam champion from Dunblane, hasn’t given up hope of winning a fourth major title. After his second round loss to Canadian prodigy Felix Auger-Aliassime at this year’s US Open, he said he would keep ‘shooting for the stars’, even though he accepted it would be ‘extremely difficult’.

While there were promising signs in a top-10 win over Alexander Zverev – who went on to reach the final of the US Open – in New York, Murray lost four of his next five matches, with his only victory coming in a dramatic five-set fightback against Yoshihito Nishioka.

Tendonitis in his left psoas – the muscle that connects the lower back to the top of the leg – caused Murray to shut his season down in Cologne, and Rusedski feels his body, rather than his tennis, will stand between him and further Slam success.

Asked if he totally ruled out Murray winning another major, Rusedski tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Yeah, I don’t think he can win majors physically. Mentally, tennis-wise, yes. But physically it’s getting harder.

Andy Murray 2020 results

Cincinnati R1: 7-6 3-6 6-1 Tiafoe
Cincinnati R2: 6-3 3-6 7-5 Zverev
Cincinnati R3: 2-6 2-6 Raonic
US Open R1: 4-6 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-4 Nishioka
US Open R2: 2-6 3-6 4-6 Auger-Aliassime
French Open R1: 1-6 3-6 2-6 Wawrinka
Cologne R1: 4-6 4-6 Verdasco

‘Not only do you have Djokovic and Nadal, you have [Dominic] Thiem, [Daniil] Medvedev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Alexander] Zverev, [Andrey] Rublev – who has had an unbelievable season, and not only do you have to beat those guys back-to-back but you have to beat three or four guys from the draw to win a major.

‘So can he have a run where he reaches the second week of a major? Possibly. Can he win one? I think that’s beyond him.

‘Just because of the physical capabilities to win a three out of five-set major. But you’ve got to give him credit for an amazing career and everything he’s done.’

Murray is currently ranked 119 in the world and is therefore susceptible to tough draws, such as his first-round tie with 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros this year.

But while Rusedski can’t see him stringing seven match wins together over a fortnight, he still thinks Murray is capable of producing a big upset by knocking out the likes of Nadal and Djokovic.

‘You’re just dealing with such small fractions. That’s what people don’t understand,’ adds Rusedski.

‘You get to top-five in the world, for example. To get from five to four is a big jump. To get from four to three is a huge jump. To get from three to two is a massive jump. And two to one is an astronomical jump. So, this is what people don’t understand. You have to make those jumps.

‘Djokovic and Nadal are healthy, Thiem has won a Slam. Can he have a magic moment where he beats these guys at a Slam? Yeah, he can beat them. But can he win seven matches in a row? That is the problem.

‘The later you’re going in a Slam, the guys aren’t playing worse, they’re playing better with every match. So you have to lift your level every match. That is the problem unfortunately. I’d like to see him win another Slam but realistically I don’t think it’s possible.’

So what does 2021 hold for the former world No. 1?

‘I think he’d love to get to Wimbledon,’ says Rusedski. ‘Wimbledon 2021 has got to be his goal, Olympics as well possibly. I think he wants to play in front of a British crowd again.

‘As long as Andy wants to keep playing then why not? But wouldn’t it be great to see him back at Wimbledon this summer and a crowd there cheering him on. I think that’s his main driver at the minute and he’s enjoying it.

‘But if you’re not healthy it’s very difficult to enjoy it, especially the competitor he is. He must be working so hard just to get on court every single week, every single day. You’ve got to commend that.

‘But at the same time it’s got to be frustrating. Because, you know, he’s probably putting in more work now. When you get older the workload doesn’t reduce, it gets more unfortunately. You’ve got to do more recovery, you’ve got to do more preparation, more physical work.

‘So from a personal point of view I’d love to see him at Wimbledon this year but it’s his choice what he wants to do with it and how long he wants to play.’

Rusedski will be casting his eye over the progress of Murray’s rivals at the ATP Finals in London this week and will be joined by fellow former British No. 1 Tim Henman to do punditry work for Amazon Prime.

Despite losing four of his seven matches in 2020, Henman is not concerned by Murray’s form and after speaking with his coach Jamie Delgado, he is convinced the motivation is still there to put in the hard yards starting with preparation for next year’s Australian Open.

‘I would never be concerned by Andy’s form,’ says Henman. ‘That, he’ll never lose. He’s always going to be a very good tennis player.

‘The question really is around his hip and whether he could maintain the fitness and the recovery really so he can play tough matches and then come back 24 hours later. That’s the challenge.

‘But I was speaking to his coach this morning [Tuesday], Jamie Delgado, and he’s still massively motivated to put in the work. This is a good opportunity over the next six or seven weeks to being able to hopefully compete in Australia.’

Murray will be rivalling Henman and Rusedski’s coverage during the ATP Finals. He and French player Gael Monfils are planning on providing post-match reaction on video streaming site Twitch.

The Nitto ATP Finals will be available to watch on Amazon Prime Video on Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd November.

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