JOHN McEnroe has urged Andy Murray to take a break from tennis rather than get straight back onto the practice court.
The Scot’s instinct when times are tough is to throw himself into hard work, and it was no different after his mauling by Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals.
This would normally be the point in the season when Murray would take a short holiday before beginning his preparations for the new season at a training camp in Miami.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
He already has a busier schedule than usual, with best-man duties next weekend at the wedding of Ross Hutchins before a trip to Manila to play in the inaugural International Premier Tennis League.
Following the 6-0 6-1 defeat by Federer, Murray took to Twitter to apologise to his fans, and he said: “I’m not going to try and forget it.
“When I think about what happened, I’m not saying I’m ever going to look at that match positively, but I need to use it as whatever. If it’s motivation for the off-season, to make some changes to things.
“I would normally take a break just now. But I also need time to work on some things in my game and make improvements. So if I was to take a two-week break just now, that’s 14 days where I can’t work on my game, make any changes in that period.
“I’ll try to get back on the practice court probably sooner than I would have done.”
Murray arrived at the O2 Arena after playing for six successive weeks in order to qualify for the tournament and on the back of one of the most challenging seasons of his career.
He did not have a break last winter because of the long process of recovering from back surgery, which lasted well into this season.
McEnroe said: “If he learns anything from Roger it should be that Roger’s magnificent in forgetting devastating matches. That’s not a tape you want to look at.
“There’s clearly a gap there, and part of it’s what happened leading up to it. He’s played too much and he seems to have not much left in the tank.
“He looked tired, his legs looked heavy. If I was his coach, I would definitely tell him to take a break. He needs a break.”
The spotlight will shine intensely on all parts of Murray’s game as well as his partnership with coach Amelie Mauresmo.
The pair linked up ahead of Wimbledon following Ivan Lendl’s departure from Murray’s team in March.
Mauresmo’s impact has inevitably been compared to that of Lendl, who within nine months helped Murray win Olympic gold and his first grand slam title at the US Open.
Murray said in New York the success of his ground-breaking relationship with Mauresmo could not be judged until at least the Australian Open because of the need to spend time working together away from the tour.
McEnroe said: “I don’t know how much time something like that needs. I would not call it a roaring success but that doesn’t mean it should not be given more time.
“I was speaking to Ivan and he said, for anything, it needs a year or two. If that’s true, you’ve got to give it more time.”
Murray has had some success late in the season, winning three titles and getting back to beating top-10 players on a regular basis, which helped him climb from a low of number 12 in the rankings back to six.
But victories over Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have proved elusive, with Murray winning just three sets in nine defeats to his biggest rivals during 2014.
Asked how far away he feels from the trio, he said: “Well, after (losing to Federer), that’s quite clear. Quite a long way from that level.
“But a lot can change in a matter of weeks and months in tennis. Roger is a good example of that. Obviously last year he was having some struggles and some tough times with his body.
“A lot of questions were asked about him. He’s responded and gone into the last tournament of the year with an opportunity to get to number one.
“I’m not happy to finish the year with that record, obviously. But hopefully next year, if I get the right work done now, I can get myself off to a good start.
“Over five sets, I’ve tended to play, I would say, better tennis in my career. I hope that, come Australia, I’ll be a much better player.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS