If the 2017 season ended today, more than four months into it, neither one of the top two players in the world would qualify for the World Tour Finals. Such have been the struggles of top-ranked Andy Murray and 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
Whereas Djokovic has shown signs of turning things around with victories at last week’s Mutua Madrid Open over Nicolas Almagro and Feliciano Lopez, Murray’s woes continued. After winning his first match against Marius Copil in straight sets, the No. 1 seed bowed out in unceremonious fashion last Thursday with a 6-3, 6-3 third-round loss at the hands of lucky loser Borna Coric. That’s right; Coric needed a lucky-loser spot just to get into the main draw and he dropped a mere six total games against Murray.
Murray’s error count (28) doubled his winners (14). He struck only two backhand winners in the entire contest compared to 13 mistakes off that week. The reigning Wimbledon champ also won a mere 35 percent of the points (seven of 20) when he had to toss in a second serve. That contributed to Coric breaking four times.
“I definitely think I need to be concerned about today,” Murray admitted. “It’s not always the worst thing losing a match, but it’s sometimes the manner of how you lose the match which can be concerning or disappointing.
“I was just making lots of mistakes early in the rallies and trying to end points very quickly at the beginning, and the errors just kept piling up. I didn’t feel that was down to confidence; I just wasn’t focusing as well as I needed to on each point. I made a lot of unforced errors and I also didn’t find any way to make it a more competitive match, so that’s the most disappointing thing for me. You can lose matches sometimes, but the manner of today’s loss was disappointing.”
Murray’s entire 2017 campaign has underwhelmed, and that is especially surprising given how he ended 2016. The Scot went 50-3 in his last 53 matches, with titles at Wimbledon, the Rio Olympics, the Shanghai Masters, the Paris Masters, and the World Tour Finals, among others. Through seven events this season, Murray boasts just a single 500-point title in Dubai. He has lost to four players outside the top 20 and one (Vasek Pospisil in Indian Wells) outside the top 100.
Despite Murray’s dreadful play of late, most sites have him as the third favorite for the French Open title around 5-1 or 6-1 odds. Rafael Nadal (3-2) is a considerable favorite, followed by Djokovic (3-1). Find more about sports betting here.
Murray, who also has this week’s Rome Masters to prepare for Roland Garros, finished runner-up to Djokovic at last season’s clay-court major. He also reached the semifinals there in 2011, 2014, and 2015.
“Things can change fast,” Murray assured. “But you need to find exactly what it is that is going wrong and how you’re going to fix that and commit to it. And if I do that, I’m sure I can turn it round.”