Is Andy Murray Enjoying The Best Season Of His Career?

Andy Murray – indisputably the greatest British player of all time – is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career. The Scot recently went on a 22-match winning streak which included Olympic Gold in Rio, but for a man who has been at the top of the game for the best part of a decade, it becomes a matter of small margins when comparing his achievements over the years. As we seek to identify his greatest season, we will analyse his results in Grand Slams and ATP Masters events, as well as looking at other notable triumphs along the way.

We begin with a somewhat cruel statistic. Exceptional player though he is, Murray is not considered amongst the all-time-greats due to his career coinciding with that of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – three of the greatest players of all time. As the graph below shows, this triumvirate have somewhat selfishly swept up the majority of Grand Slams on offer, with Murray having to settle for just the three in this fiercely competitive era:

If anything, the presence of these three greats only serves to enhance the significance of Murray’s achievements, as to do so with such considerable obstacles in his way is a testament to the Scot’s talents.

Next, we will look at Murray’s statistics year-on-year, starting with a glance at his overall season statistics since he turned professional in 2005:

*2016 season still underway

Murray’s 2016 season win percentage currently stands at 88%, the highest of his career so far. Of course, there’s still a good deal of tennis to be played before the season is over so this statistic may change. What we can say however, is that the Brit is on course to eclipse his best win percentage of 86%, achieved in 2009, with the 84% recorded in both 2013 and 2015 close behind.

Perhaps a fairer comparison would be to look at where Murray stood at the equivalent stage in his previous seasons, starting with Grand Slam performance:

Murray’s current 2016 Grand Slam win percentage of 90% is strong compared to previous seasons, with the only exception being 2013 when he was on 93% at this stage; a highly impressive statistic, but one that has to be taken with a pinch of salt owing to the fact he missed that year’s French Open – traditionally his weakest slam – through injury. If we include the US Open in our analyses, we can see what Murray will need to do in order to outperform his previous best:

*2016 season still underway

Overall, 2012 and 2013 were his strongest years in terms of overall performance in the four Grand Slams, recording win percentages of 88% and 89% respectively. Therefore, we can deduce that Murray will need to reach the quarter-finals of the upcoming US Open in order to achieve a better result – a feat that is well within his grasp given the form he is in. Furthermore, having already claimed the Wimbledon title this year, Murray will be aiming to win two Grand Slams in a season for the first time in his career.

Although a player’s legacy is often defined by their record in the four Grand Slam tournaments, it is important to note accomplishments in other events. We’ll start by looking at Murray’s performance in the ATP Masters 1000 series, which consists of nine tournaments per year featuring the top players in the men’s game. Once again, we’ll compare against other years at the same stage, meaning we are ignoring the final two Masters events for now, as they haven’t yet taken place in 2016:

Interestingly, despite performing well in the Grand Slams in 2012, Murray was enduring one of his worst years in the 1000 series at this stage, with a lowly 61% win record. If we look slightly further back, we can see that 2009 represented a very successful year for Murray in these top-level events, with two tournament victories under his belt at this juncture and a win percentage of 83%. This is second only to 2015, where the Scot was carrying a staggering win percentage of 88%, which also included two trophies (although he did miss the Monte Carlo event). His current 2016 statistic of 78% falls slightly behind, but he will have opportunities to improve upon this later in the year in Shanghai and Paris – where he will be hoping to add to the trophy he picked up in May at the Rome Masters.

As before, we’ll look at how each season finished after the culmination of all events in this series:

*2016 season still underway

Murray’s totals for 2009 and 2015 decrease slightly, resulting in overall win percentages of 81% and 86% respectively. Such was the strength of his Master Series record last year, that even if Murray were to win both the Shanghai and Paris titles this season, he would still fall short of his all-time best, albeit by a small margin. Having said that, he stands a good chance of overtaking his 2009 mark, proving again that Murray is having one of his most consistent years on tour.

Finally, we will look at Murray’s efforts in the three remaining competitions considered to be among the most prestigious on the men’s tour – the Olympic Games, the ATP World Tour Finals and the Davis Cup:

*2016 season still underway

Fresh in the minds of Murray fans will be the gold medal he brought home from Rio this summer, following an epic victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the Olympic final. This was not the first time he has achieved this feat, having also claimed the top prize in the 2012 games on home soil, giving weight to the argument that 2012 may have been his finest year. The season-ending World Tour Finals however, has not been a competition of much joy for Murray over the years, with three semi-final appearances all he has to show, something he will be looking to improve upon this year. Murray enhanced his 2015 season by magnificently spearheading the British triumph in the Davis Cup, although this could be matched this year with the Scot set to feature in the upcoming semi-final clash with Argentina.

To summarise, we have identified that, when answering the question of whether Murray is currently enjoying his best year on tour, we should compare with his 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015 seasons. Below, we have pulled together the various statistics and provided a side-by-side view:

*2016 season still underway
**Includes smaller tournaments not discussed in this article

It is clear to see that, if Murray continues the final few months of this year at the same level he has been at in recent months, then 2016 will be his finest season yet. Having won both the Wimbledon title and Olympic Gold, as well as reaching the final of both the Australian Open and the French Open, it is difficult to argue against this assessment, particularly when you consider he has the US Open, two ATP Masters 1000 events, the ATP World Tour Finals and the Davis Cup still to come.