Andy Murray's Performance in Miami Will Be Springboard for Grand Slam Season

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Andy Murray's Performance in Miami Will Be Springboard for Grand Slam Season
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After what's been a disjointed start to 2014, Andy Murray is getting back on track in Miami.

The reigning Wimbledon champion quickly dispatched the 32nd seed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday. In that victory, he was downright filthy, saving three out of four break points and breaking Lopez on five of his six chances. Murray also won 78 percent of his first-serve points.

Although Murray has never lost to Lopez in their nine meetings, Simon Cambers was impressed with the 26-year-old's performance:

No matter what Murray does at the Sony Open, he'll remain firmly behind Novak Djokvoic and Rafael Nadal in the grand scheme of things. What his final result in Miami can do, though, is build some much-needed momentum heading into the French Open in May and Wimbledon in June.

Quite frankly, things aren't going well for Murray. He's yet to make a final, and he has losses to Marin Cilic and Florian Mayer to his name already.

Then came the split with former coach Ivan Lendl, per Simon Briggs of The Telegraph.

“That night it was tough,” Murray said. “He was a big part of my life. And the next couple of days on the court were not particularly fun. I was gutted but I still think the guy is great. It’s not like anything has changed there.

“We both agreed it was a nice conversation over dinner. He is going to come and watch my matches here. I will be disappointed for a few weeks but you have to move on. Who knows, maybe it is the spark that I need.”

Early into the 2014-15 season, you could understand why Murray might be having some problems. The Australian Open is always the most unpredictable Grand Slam of the year, and it was made worse for Murray by the back injury from which he was still recovering.

He'd need a little more time to get into peak fitness.

Into February and March, though, the results didn't improve much.

ESPN.com's Peter Bodo wrote that losing Lendl may have brought out the old Andy Murray, who was his own worst enemy:

Murray seemed set to dole out some punishment at Indian Wells, in the first Masters 1000 of the year. Then the pre-Lendl Murray re-emerged. He made baffling decisions, blew leads, and he created problems and then bitterly complained about them as he lurched through three tough matches, flaming out after being in firm control of his fourth-round match against No. 11 seed Milos Raonic. (Now there’s a guy who could use Lendl’s services).

Perhaps it’s significant that Lendl was not present. In Lendl’s absence, Murray once again fell into the clutches of the Whine Monster. All the negativity that once seemed to hold Murray back appeared to return, flowing into the vacuum left by Lendl like scotch whiskey filling a flask.

Now, though, Murray looks focused. He could easily have let Lopez get some footing and maybe even win a set. Instead, he jumped on the Argentine early and kept up the pressure. That's the player who's one of the best in the world, not No. 6.

You'd expect that no matter what he does in the coming months, Murray will only have an outside chance at Roland Garros. His best finish is a semifinal in 2011, and there's nothing that makes you believe Rafael Nadal won't reign in Paris again.

Wimbledon is a different story. Having broken the British drought, Murray won't be carrying the past failures of a country on his back this time around.

Sooner or later, though, he needed to put together a string of results. The questions about Lendl's departure and whether it affected his mindset won't completely go away, but if he's playing great on the court, they won't dominate the narrative.

Murray still has some work to do before May and June, but his performance in Miami is encouraging. He can definitely use it to kick-start his 2014-15 campaign and put his previous issues behind him.

 

Note: All stats are courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com unless otherwise noted.

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