Andy Murray: Does He Have the Mental Game To Become a Men's Tennis Star?

Alex FungContributor IFebruary 22, 2011

Andy Murray's mentality got the better of him again.
Andy Murray's mentality got the better of him again.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

What does it take to become a star? Do you have to be the world No. 1, who dominates the tennis world? Or does becoming a star just mean being able to handle the top players?

The term "star" can be quite ambiguous, but what is the factor that Murray is missing in order for him to become one?

He's had his fair share of success in hard-court tournaments. He's consistently been at the top of the rankings, reaching a high of No. 2. He has a winning record against some of the top players, including Federer. He's incredibly fit, rivaling even Nadal in terms of fitness. He's a knowledgeable and talented player who knows how to construct points and he can come up with awe-inspiring shots.

It would seem that all he lacks is a Grand Slam title.

So really, when one asks whether or not Andy Murray can become a star, the question is more or less referring to the question of whether or not he can win a major.

And there are only a couple of flaws so far that have obstructed him from doing so. 

Firstly, he does not have "the shot." Solid everywhere, but consistently fantastic nowhere, Murray is missing a shot that is similar in fashion to the loopy forehand of Nadal, the serve of Roddick, the inside-out forehand of Djokovic or the backhand slice of Federer.

Indeed, his backhand is very strong, but it does not do the same as the shots previously mentioned. This point though may be neglected; "the shot" would help, but it is not absolutely necessary. 

His other flaw is his mental game.

It's not that he chokes in a match, or that he lacks a competitive attitude to always try and win the point.

It's that he cannot let loose when he needs to.

The pressure of ending a 75-year drought of a Grand Slam winner, being so close yet knowing that being close won't cut it and knowing that reaching a final after two weeks and six best-of-five matches just to lose in the end will affect him for some period after the tournament is over—all of these factors will inevitably lead to the fear of losing; needing to win so badly that he thinks and worries too much.

To be fair, his opponents in his past three failed attempts were in top form, causing his usual passive game to be ineffective. If they weren't, he very well may have won already—if he ever had a weaker opponent in the final, he wouldn't even need to have such mental strength to win a major—but that may require a bit of luck.

However, even if he doesn't have this stroke of luck, Murray has beaten these guys before; he most definitely has the talent and skill to defeat them.

The only problem is that on the big stage he has to kick it up a notch, or at the very least, keep his game at the level on which he beat his opponents. 

But he knows all this now. He's had enough experience, and as hurtful it may be to lose his first three Grand Slam finals in a row, he does have what it takes to win one. He does know how to handle all the pressure, to fight the fear of losing.

He most definitely has the mental game to win a Grand Slam title, to become a star. And all the other top players know it.