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Murray must use Djokovic defeats to his advantage in 2013

Published on 7 December 2012

Former world No.1 John McEnroe believes Andy Murray will add to his grand slam tally next year but may have missed a trick by failing to stamp his authority on his rivals at the end of 2012.

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Murray's victory over Novak Djokovic at the US Open in September broke his grand slam duck and made him the first British man to win a major singles title for 76 years.

McEnroe, who watched every one of Murray's matches on his way to glory in New York, believes how the Scot reacts to the tight defeats by world No.1 Djokovic in the last two months of the year could have a bearing on his fortunes in 2013.

"Those were the ones where I thought if he could have run the table on those, you could have made the argument that he had the best year of any of them," the 53-year-old said at London's Royal Albert Hall yesterday.

"He definitely made a big step into that group [the top four], legitimately, but that seemed like an opportunity lost. I know he had match points [against Djokovic] in China and I know the one [at the ATP World Tour Finals] was close, 7-5 in the third set. He was knocking on the door. If he can take those as a positive instead of a negative then you could be looking at a couple of majors next year."

Murray squandered five match points in losing to Djokovic in the final of the Shanghai Masters and then narrowly missed out in their group match in London.

That left him to take on Roger Federer in the semi-finals and the Swiss, who beat Murray in this year's Wimbledon final, won in straight sets.

Murray is unlikely to lose too much sleep over that defeat, especially having beaten Federer in the Olympic final in August, but McEnroe said the 25-year-old's attitude will determine how well he does.

"It was the best year he's ever had, he won the Olympics, he won the [US] Open and he played pretty damned well at Wimbledon," said McEnroe, who is in London to compete in the Statoil Masters.

"But he did have a couple of tough losses at the end, so it's going to be interesting. He's got a lot to look positively at, so it depends how he responds.

"But he's certainly set himself up either way to take it up a notch and if he doesn't, I think he'd regard it as a disappointment.

"I think if he got one major next year I think that would still be a good year for him. It's not easy winning these things."

McEnroe had been due to play his old foe Ivan Lendl in London this week but injuries forced the Czech-born American to stay in Florida, where he is fine-tuning the Murray game in readiness for 2013.

McEnroe admits he was among those who were sceptical about the wisdom of Lendl becoming Murray's coach at the end of last year but acknowledges the input he has clearly made.

"What we don't know is what would have happened if he hadn't been there, but you've got to give him credit because the bottom line is that he was part of this," McEnroe said.

"Ivan was saying some of the same things that Andy was hearing before – whether it was 'look, you've got to work on your second serve' or 'you've got to use your great return more and attack more' or 'you've got to be more aggressive off your forehand'. But for whatever reason, and again I would have to credit Ivan to some degree, he got in his head and he started to do that. There's no question that because of that, he was able to tough out a match like that five-setter [final] at the [US] Open."

The three-times Wimbledon champion insists he sees no reason why Murray should change anything in the near future.

"If they're getting on, which as far as I know they are, there would be no reason not to give it at least another year or two, at least."

Murray's victory over Novak Djokovic at the US Open in September broke his grand slam duck and made him the first British man to win a major singles title for 76 years.

McEnroe, who watched every one of Murray's matches on his way to glory in New York, believes how the Scot reacts to the tight defeats by world No.1 Djokovic in the last two months of the year could have a bearing on his fortunes in 2013.

"Those were the ones where I thought if he could have run the table on those, you could have made the argument that he had the best year of any of them," the 53-year-old said at London's Royal Albert Hall yesterday.

"He definitely made a big step into that group [the top four], legitimately, but that seemed like an opportunity lost. I know he had match points [against Djokovic] in China and I know the one [at the ATP World Tour Finals] was close, 7-5 in the third set. He was knocking on the door. If he can take those as a positive instead of a negative then you could be looking at a couple of majors next year."

Murray squandered five match points in losing to Djokovic in the final of the Shanghai Masters and then narrowly missed out in their group match in London.

That left him to take on Roger Federer in the semi-finals and the Swiss, who beat Murray in this year's Wimbledon final, won in straight sets.

Murray is unlikely to lose too much sleep over that defeat, especially having beaten Federer in the Olympic final in August, but McEnroe said the 25-year-old's attitude will determine how well he does.

"It was the best year he's ever had, he won the Olympics, he won the [US] Open and he played pretty damned well at Wimbledon," said McEnroe, who is in London to compete in the Statoil Masters.

"But he did have a couple of tough losses at the end, so it's going to be interesting. He's got a lot to look positively at, so it depends how he responds.

"But he's certainly set himself up either way to take it up a notch and if he doesn't, I think he'd regard it as a disappointment.

"I think if he got one major next year I think that would still be a good year for him. It's not easy winning these things."

McEnroe had been due to play his old foe Ivan Lendl in London this week but injuries forced the Czech-born American to stay in Florida, where he is fine-tuning the Murray game in readiness for 2013.

McEnroe admits he was among those who were sceptical about the wisdom of Lendl becoming Murray's coach at the end of last year but acknowledges the input he has clearly made.

"What we don't know is what would have happened if he hadn't been there, but you've got to give him credit because the bottom line is that he was part of this," McEnroe said.

"Ivan was saying some of the same things that Andy was hearing before – whether it was 'look, you've got to work on your second serve' or 'you've got to use your great return more and attack more' or 'you've got to be more aggressive off your forehand'. But for whatever reason, and again I would have to credit Ivan to some degree, he got in his head and he started to do that. There's no question that because of that, he was able to tough out a match like that five-setter [final] at the [US] Open."

The three-times Wimbledon champion insists he sees no reason why Murray should change anything in the near future.

"If they're getting on, which as far as I know they are, there would be no reason not to give it at least another year or two, at least."

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