John McEnroe has urged Andy Murray to alter his game and follow Rafael Nadal’s example after he exited the Australian Open on Saturday following a 6-1, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spanish legend has also been knocked out of the Major following his straight sets defeat to American Mckenzie McDonald in the second round as he struggled with injury.
Murray was widely praised in his final two rounds in Australia after showing great resilience, and was especially lauded when he was forced to play defensive tennis, turning a point around to break Thanasi Kokkinakis as his resilience ensured he was able to return four smashed shots before forcing an error from the home favourite – who then threw his racket in frustration.
Murray was praised for his ability to counter his opponent, but McEnroe has questioned whether the Scot would be better served by changing his game to become a more aggressive player. “Andy is a bit of a counter puncher,” McEnroe told Eurosport.
“This has been talked about for numerous years, the need to be more aggressive. He’s one of the great returners that [have] ever played. To me, he needs to take advantage of that and be more willing to move forward and finish points more quickly.
“Having said that, it doesn’t automatically mean he’s going to go deep into tournaments. Ultimately, it’s [about] the body holding up and mentally wanting the battle, wanting to continue to do what we saw him do here. This is encouraging but even this tournament takes its toll on him.”
Even if Murray wanted to play more aggressively against Bautista Agut, the short turnaround between matches would have made it extremely difficult.
The 35-year-old finished his win over Kokkinakis at 4.05am on Tuesday and then only had a short period of rest before he had to take on the Spaniard and ultimately lost in four sets.