Unfortunately, Mr. Murray is a relative non-factor on clay. Always has been at ATP tour level, probably always will be. I can agree with this. However, Murray has all qualities to be a great clay player. IMHO, his biggest problem is his movement on clay. too tired to explain it, but he is not sliding on clay, he is sort of trying to run on clay as if it was HC ... I hope someone understands what I'm talking about ... again his inability to move properly on clay is his biggest problem.
Grass is another story. Hopefully he is in good shape when Wimbledon starts. I don't want to see him bounced out early
Yes Alex, I agree with you and many other experts about Mr. Murray's movement on clay being the basic problem and it does have to do with sliding.
I think Brad Gilbert once termed it the "California slide", basically illustrating how Murray was sliding after he was hitting the ball, thus getting out of position as opposed to sliding into the ball as all good clay court movers do.
Another problem is that, as with most players, clay tends to diminish his strength of service, which for him is not good, as it is one of his primary weapons.
The key word in my original statement is "relative"
(non-factor). To explain further, "relative" applies to multiple factors, of which I'll list 4 factors.
1. Relative to his own overall record on the various surfaces, his clay tournament finals result record is by far the poorest.
I won't go into every detail, but hopefully this should be sufficient to demonstrate his proficiency or lack thereof relative to the other surfaces:
hard: 22 13
grass: 3 1
clay: 0 0
He also won 1 tourney on the now defunct carpet.
He has 4 semifinal and 6 QF results on clay out of 28 major (1 SF, 2 QF) and masters 1000 (3 SF, 4 QF) tournaments played,
which is approximately equal to his early round exits on clay (9 in the 1st or 2nd round).
2. Relative to his competition on various surfaces, both historically and currently, his overall record on clay is relatively poor.
Using the ATP career reliability index (based on match win pct), he is historically ranked 8th on grass (.813), 10th on hard (.783), and 99th
on clay (.602).
There are 16 active players ranked ahead of him on clay.
3. Relative to his competition, he doesn't move as well on clay vs. the other surfaces. In my judgement, his movement and footwork is best on hard, then grass, then clay.
4. Mental - relative lack of clay aura. Other players see him as more beatable on clay, and he probably sees himself as more beatable. Confidence is a big factor at this level.
Of course, these factors are interrelated. Relative lack of good movement/footwork on clay affects results, which affect a player's mentality and aura.
There has been some improvement on clay since he began playing, some crediting various coaches helping him, but it is not consistent. He appears to improve, then he backslides.
I think his better results on clay have come from his basic improvement in all areas of his game over time. In my judgement, I think it will be difficult for him to improve his movement/footwork/sliding on clay at this point in his career, which will always handicap his results versus his current competition. He might get better results if his competition falls off the radar scope. I wish all the best for him; he seems like a good hard working guy.
This is how I see it, relatively speaking...