The match between Murray and Kyrgios at the Queens' was a huge delight, not so much for the quality of the match, but for its revealing of a successful recovery of Murray as the most prestigious tournament of the year approaches. Such recovery was demonstrated not just by the fact that Murray was able to hold his ground against Kyrgios without visibly faltering in any significant way, but also by some tactical adjustments (which actually will be more accurately described as 'improvements')
There is marked loosening of his hips, compared to the time just before he had to break off from the tour last year
Although there is still a visible tightness in Murray's hips, in that he cannot rotate his lower body as naturally and efficiently as normal, such condition is much better when compared to last year's, particularly at the time of his last match before the break - his quarter-final match against Sam Querry at Wimbledon. The main difference lies mainly in Murray's improved ability to hit the ball at or close to the ideal spot. In his match against Querry, many a times you see Andy Murray stretching uncomfortably for his balls, instead of side-stepping into the ideal range of distance between himself and the ball for contact, particularly on the backhand side. We do not recall seeing this in his match against Kyrgios at Queens'. There also many shots in his match against Querry last year when he did not rotate at all, violating a cardinal rule of tennis not to hit the ball with your frontal body facing the front throughout your stroke. We do not see this violation - no doubt a function of the more severe immobility of his hips back then - in his match against Kyrgios.
What are some of these tactical adjustments, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph?
The two keywords here would be 'footwork' and 'variety'. There is a marked change in Murray's footwork from the last time we saw him play. It looks more light, un-grounded, and big-stepped. This visual effect is mainly due to Murray taking bigger steps than what he has traditionally done, probably for medical reasons - perhaps there would be less grind on the hips. Nevertheless, the more economic footwork would serve him well in the matches ahead, as he would be able to reach balls with significantly more ease, if not speed. It is perhaps because of such that he has been getting into position much better against Kyrgios than against Querry way back last year. We may be fishing in murky waters here, but it does seem to us that there is more variety in Murray's game. There are more slices, more drop-shots, and less of the standard I-want-to-set-up-and-then-endure-a-rally shots. In short, Murray is apparently becoming more like Federer
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