Murray: potentially ‘as good as Henman’

British number one Andy Murray has the potential to match the feats of former tennis maestro Tim Henman, according to experts today.

Murray has experienced a string of good results in recent matches and even made it as far as the 4th round of the US Open, before being beaten in straight sets by classy Croatian Marin Cilic – and former British player Mark Petchey believes he could get even better: “He’s the best British tennis player we’ve had for a few years. It’s hard to believe he’s still only 22 years old and he’s already done this well. It’s virtually unheard of for a British professional to get into the last 16 of a major overseas tournament so early in their career.

“He’s an exciting prospect because in time he’ll get even better. If he carries on the way he is for the next 4 or 5 years he could even become as good as Tim Henman. The last few years have been fantastic for the British game as the pool of talent has been immense. It seems like only yesterday that British players would struggle to get into the second or third round of a tournament – now we’re producing guys who can get to the last 16 or even the quarters pretty much every year. British tennis has never been in a better place.”

Other experts agree, with some predicting he may even reach a semi-final – providing he improves one or two areas of his game: “He has the game to regularly compete well in major tournaments,” says John McEnroe, “but he needs to work on strengthening his serve and coming into the net more. Otherwise I think his game is pretty solid.”

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash thinks it’s not Murray’s actual game that’s the problem: “For me, he’s got all the shots and is a good solid matchplayer. I believe he just needs to work on his stamina and overall physical strength – if he does that then there’s no reason why he can’t emulate the likes of Henman and Rusedski.”

Jeremy Bates, who famously reached the last 16 of Wimbledon in 1992, said: “I absolutely believe Andy Murray could continue the groundwork laid down by Tim Henman. All he really needs to do is work on his groundstrokes a bit more, especially his backhand, which is a lot weaker than his forehand. His serve is OK, but if I were his coach I’d be telling him to get a bit more pace into it.”

For Greg Rusedski, it’s a case of adopting the right attitude: “Murray needs to develop a strong ‘court presence’ to really let his opponent know he’s there. He needs to get into the other guy’s space a lot more, forcing him out of his comfort zone. His only barrier to greater success is attitude. Plus, from a technical point of view, his returns need a bit more work.”

The experts are, however, united in believing he has the talent to go all the way to emulating Henman’s achievements – providing he puts in the hard work: “There’s nothing to say he can’t be that good,” says Petchey, “so long as he trains hard for the next few years and keeps his focus. He’s in a great place at the moment because he’s made it much harder for the best players to beat him and you can’t really ask for much more than that. If he can build from this foundation and keep up the commitment then a few semi-final finishes won’t be beyond the realms of possibility at some point in the future.”

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