• Australian Open

Finely-tuned athlete Murray 'as fast as Bolt'

ESPN staff
January 11, 2013
Fitness and endurance could prove the key at the Australian Open © Getty Images

Andy Murray's fitness coach believes the US Open champion is as quick as Usain Bolt over short distances.

Jez Green has worked with Murray for five years, tuning and strengthening his body to cope with the rigours of grand slam tennis. And he remains in awe of the physical gifts the Scot has been graced with.

"I still find it hard to believe all the things that he can do," Green told the Times. "What you're seeing in this generation is a group of guys with incredible genetics.

"You can try to play like Roger Federer, you can imitate his footwork, but he is just born with something that sets him apart. The work you do as a fitness trainer is about trying to maximise that.

"Andy is naturally fast, but he is also so strong: on his best day, he can do 27 pull-ups and push 300lb on the leg-press. He could probably run a 50-second 400 metres if he trained for it.

"He is a big, powerful guy, whereas Novak [Djokovic] has a wiry strength; his flexibility is extraordinary. Andy has lazy speed. He doesn't look as if he's moving that fast, but it's deceptive.

"He's been clocked at moving at ten metres per second over very short intervals, maybe even as short as a single step, which is as fast as Usain Bolt. I'm not saying he is that fast over 100 metres, but he has great acceleration when he is chasing down a drop shot."

Murray has based himself in Florida over the winter break, undergoing a gruelling schedule of training designed to build on his natural traits. But Green believes there are some attributes the world No. 3 was born with that have played the decisive role in elevating him to the top of the sport.

"Even more valuable than his flat speed is the ability to stop and turn so quickly," Green continued. "He's putting three times his body weight through his legs in that moment, so they have to be seriously strong.

"But, above all, he is fast with his eyes: he picks up the cues so quickly and he knows where the ball is going that much faster than almost anyone else. All the guys in the top ten have that ability to some extent.

"Andy's fitness record in matches is good; it's almost unknown that he has to pull out. These guys are so strong they can compensate if they have a problem. It's almost like they switch over to other muscle groups like a computer running a different programme."

Green, who is set to make a speech in front of the press on Saturday as part of a forfeit for losing an endurance race against Murray's coach Ivan Lendl, believes the Olympic champion is still developing as an athlete under his auspices.

"Andy's training is very specific: we've never done a bench press, for instance, because tennis is all about back strength," Green revealed. "It's a pulling sport, not a pushing sport, in that you use your big muscle groups to pull the racket back and turn your body into a spring. Then you unwind and drive with your legs.

"He is moving towards his physiological peak from 25 to 28. He achieved a 200 beat per minute maximum heart rate. His maximum minute ventilation is indicative of a highly trained athlete and has increased since last year's test.

"His oxygen pulse, which is an indication of how much blood and oxygen he can consume for every beat of his heart, is still extremely high."

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