The Andy Murray forehand is a consistent shot that sets up the point with high percentage tennis strategy
Andy Murray’s forehand is not as impressive in terms of power as the Federer forehand or the Nadal forehand, but it is a consistent shot that involves the use of strategic placement and spins rather than pure power.
Since Murray’s forehand technique is a relatively simple and compact stroke, and the backswing is much smaller when compared to his pro counterparts he generates less power but it offers him greater control and placement accuracy. In this article, we will take a closer look behind at the Andy Murray forehand technique.
Andy Murray’s Record
British tennis star Andy Murray is one of the most complete players ever to play the game. He has power, variety and tactical brilliance. He is big and athletic, with great hands and coordination. Technically, his groundstrokes are some of the best in the business.
Andy Murray’s serve and return are also outstanding shots. Why, then, has he failed to win a grand slam title? It has more to do with his mental game. He has failed to deal with the pressure of playing a grand slam final and has not learned from his losses as much as he should have.
Andy Murray has now lost twice at the Australian Open final and once at the US Open final. He has also stalled in the semi-finals of his home grand slam Wimbledon for three straight years. Despite these disappointments, his technical abilities continue to impress and keep him in the top five. His best shot is arguably his backhand. But the Andy Murray forehand is also nothing to pick on.
Andy Murray’s Forehand: A Steady Shot
Andy Murray is described as a counter puncher. Although he can hit big first serves and offensive returns, he usually prefers to play a point one shot at a time. He lets the rally develop and mixes up his shots before looking for the right ball to put away. He also likes hitting drop shots to bring opponents up to the net where he can pass them or lob over them. His shot making ability is most evident when he is put in a defensive position.
He frequently gets out of such situations by hitting a big shot of his own to turn the point immediately around in his favor. With such talents, one would think that he should be playing points more proactively in order to control the rallies and end them sooner.
Although he has improved his fitness and stamina, he would still be far better off if he played more aggressively and kept the points shorter in order to conserve energy. This would go a long way in helping him stay mentally fresh and focused, especially in a high stakes match. There are many shots in his arsenal that he can hit more offensively. The Andy Murray forehand is one such shot that can be used to this end.
Andy Murray Forehand Grip
The Andy Murray forehand is held in a semi-western grip. He waits in the proper ready position, constantly moving and keeping balanced on the balls of his feet. His anticipation and eyesight are tremendous, allowing him to track the ball very early as it leaves his opponent’s racket. With his focus, he is very quick to recognize that the ball will come to either forehand or backhand side.
At the instant he recognizes that the ball is coming over to his forehand, he performs a split step and gets into either an open or semi-open stance. He can also hit from a closed stance but he prefers the more open stances. He has great footwork and balance even with these stances. He puts his left foot ahead of his right foot, which he loads up with his body weight.
Andy Murray Forehand: Initial Shoulder and Unit Turn
His knees are bent comfortably. His shoulders make a full turn at the same time that he takes the racket back in a circular loop. He guides it with his left hand on the throat but he doesn’t take the racket head very high. Instead, he proceeds to extend it out back behind him with a relaxed arm. The racket head is a little closed and at the level of his chest.
His left hand is now out in front of his body, but he doesn’t use it to point to the ball. He actually uses his entire forearm as his guide to the ball so his elbow is a little bent. The backswing does not have any pauses or hitches. It is a smooth and continuous, if slightly mechanical-looking shot.
Murray Forehand: The Forward Swing
The forward swing phase of the Andy Murray forehand begins when he drops the racket head below the level of the ball. His arm is still relaxed and loose with the wrist cocked back slightly. The racket head will trail his forearm and elbow more markedly later in the swing. Other players cock their wrists fully at this point of the stroke but Murray does it a little differently. His weight begins to shift to the front foot as his torso begins to unwind and his left arm gets tucked closer to his body. His eyes remain locked on the ball.
Andy Murray Forehand Contact Point
Right before contact, the Andy Murray forehand swing accelerates to top speed. His wrist is now laid back and his shoulder and arm begin to tighten, whipping the racket head along its path. His upper body is now facing the net and his weight continuing to shift to the left leg as he steps into the shot. At contact, he hits through the ball and upward creating topspin. The resulting shot can be a very fast, spinning and penetrating shot. The wrist rolls over the racket head as his forearm pronates.
Andy Murray Forehand Follow Through
Andy Murray’s forehand follow through consists of the racket extending out to the target but not exaggeratedly. He finishes by following through across his body in a windshield-wiper style finish. His right shoulder is now facing the net and his right leg steps in to finish slightly ahead of his left leg. A notable thing within this phase of the stroke is that he doesn’t keep his head down and completely motionless, unlike Roger Federer.
Andy Murray’s forehand head position is different than Federer’s. Murray actually has a tendency to look up to his target too soon. It doesn’t seem to compromise his accuracy in regular situations but it does affect him when he is nervous. Murray uses his quickness to recover back to the ready position and prepare for the next ball.
The Andy Murray forehand is a very versatile shot. He has the ability to hit it flat and hard or put heavy topspin and make the ball dip against someone rushing the net. He can also use this topspin to create sharp angles and deft lobs.
When putting extra topspin, he will exaggerate his swing’s low-to-high path. He doesn’t just use his wrist to apply the extra topspin. Additionally, with his dextrous handling of the racket, he will suddenly change grip in mid-swing to a continental and hit a drop shot. He hits this by caressing the ball in a slicing motion. He is also one of the few players who will employ the forehand slice as a change of pace shot in a rally.
Andy Murray’s Game Plan: A Counter Punching Mentality?
Despite all this variety, the Andy Murray forehand is at its best when used offensively. Because he can hit it quite hard, he can build points around his ability to put away the ball with this wing. He does have a few patterns that take advantage of this. He likes to rally with his backhand and then hit a deep and low slice down the line.
This will force his opponent to hit up back to his forehand. He anticipates this and moves over to cover the shot. He will then hit it very hard down the line or back deep cross court to take control of the point. If the ball is short, he has the option to hit a drop shot or approach shot.
How Andy Murray Can Use His Forehand
Andy Murray’s forehand is not as aggressive due to his counterpunching mind set seems very much ingrained that it has hindered his progress to the top of the rankings. He seems to be stalling at number four despite having beaten all of the top players. The main difference is that the top players aggressively go for their chances in the big points of the important matches.
When they miss, they recompose themselves and go for it again. Murray played much too passively in his three grand slam finals appearances and lost each time in straight sets. Most recently, at Wimbledon, he played Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals and was leading by a set, playing as aggressively as ever. In the second, he went for a winner… and missed. He didn’t recover from that and went on to lose. In order for him to win his first grand slam title, he will need to continue going for the big shots throughout a best of five set match.
Fortunately for him, his forehand is a great tool for developing a more aggressive game so we may yet see him in the future hoisting grand slam championship trophies.
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