Murray needs to listen to everyone – especially me, says Becker

Andy Murray needs to take on board at least 6 or 7 conflicting pieces of advice from several ex-pros if he is to succeed in grand slam tournaments, according to ex-pro Boris Becker.

Becker, 43, said yesterday: “He’s a good player, but he needs to take that important step up in order to achieve greatness. And the only way he will progress to that level is to listen to advice from ex-players such as McCenroe, Connors, Borg, Cash, Sampras and myself. He needs to take on board as much advice as possible and apply all of it to his game – even if most of it is contradictory.

“His problem is that he is currently struggling to work just 3 or 4 conflicting sources of advice into his game – and one of those is his coach’s. You ask any of the true greats of the game how many differing instructions from ex-pros they were able to handle and you’ll find it’s at least 7 or 8. At one point during Wimbledon in 1994, Sampras had 11 contradictory opinions inside his head to contend with just after the first set of the final- and you didn’t hear him complaining.”

The world’s number one Scottish player was in tears after Sunday’s defeat to Roger Federer, claiming he was “confused and overawed beyond all recognition” and that he didn’t know whether he was “coming or going” throughout most of the match. “It was only once I decided to start trying out a few of my own ideas that I got anywhere near to taking a set off him. But then again, that could have been luck and I’m probably best off taking on board conflicting advice in the same way I do isotonic drinks,” said Murray in his post-match interview.

Becker insisted yesterday: “You don’t learn the skills required on centre court from a book. Well, OK, maybe some of them. He needs to read as many books as possible on tennis, but not take everything in them as gospel. He hasn’t spoken to me for a while, but if he asked me for advice I would tell him he needs to become more patient whilst at the same time working on his aggression. He needs to stay back on the baseline more and work on his groundstrokes, although getting into the net would also help his overall game. I would say his serve needs a bit of work although it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of the game. I would also suggest he doesn’t get intimidated by any other player on the circuit, but at the same time respect his opponent, as many of them are high quality and can tear through you on a good day.”

Becker, himself a winner of 6 grand slam tournaments, added: “He needs a coach and mentor in his corner who knows what it’s like to win a ‘slam. I wouldn’t want to do it myself, but I’m more than happy to give him as much advice as possible through my occasional column in the Daily Telegraph. Admittedly, a lot of the advice he’ll receive will only be relevant to when the game was a lot slower and played with wooden rackets, but he’ll begin to learn how to distill much of it over time. In fact, he should view the inside of his head as a kind of complex advice distillery – but at the same time keep a kind of clarity about his approach. If he can do all this he could well win some ‘slams like I have.”

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