Working on Andy Murray’s killer instinct looks to be the big challenge facing Ivan Lendl if the Brit is to finally end his Grand Slam hoodoo in 2012.
Murray clearly has the game to live with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but somehow fails to see out the job in the biggest showdowns.
After close to five hours on court against world number one Djokovic in the Australian Open, Murray exited a Grand Slam at the semi-final stage for the fourth occasion in succession, when dropping a topsy-turvy fifth set 7-5.
The result takes Murray’s Grand Slam record against his fellow big three to ten defeats in 12 matches, with his only two successes coming against Rafael Nadal.
He certainly was not without numerous chances to see off Djokovic, with perhaps the biggest being the three break points he wasted in the 11th game of the final set.
What was seemingly lacking was a small amount of focus at big times and the lack of aggression that had originally seen Murray take the initiative.
Numerous times Murray was broken back in the very next game after securing his own break and this failure to consolidate an advantage often prevented any extra pressure building on Djokovic.
It seems that when gaining an advantage, Murray’s first decision is to go back into a shell where he expects his opponent to gift him points, rather than continuing to be aggressive to go and win points.
This strategy works against lesser players, but against the big guns, simply returning the ball is not enough.
Lendl has only been working with Murray for two weeks and he appears to have had a positive impact in terms of a confidence boost, but this is still the area of Murray’s game that requires the most work in the coming months.
If Lendl can continue encouraging Murray to take the big games by the scruff of the next, 6/4 could be worth backing that the Brit finally wins a first Grand Slam in 2012.
Individually, Murray is 5/1 to win the US Open, 14/1 to triumph in the French Open and 5/1 to claim a monster victory at Wimbledon.