We cannot say it’s the case for all the players, but a lot of them are very fine analysts of their own game and that of their opponents when questioned about it during interviews, which always makes for interesting listen or read.
For example, last month in Buenos Aires, I had the chance to ask David Nalbandian about such preview opponent analysis after some of his matches, and the answers I had were the most interesting. I knew beforehand that Nalbandian is one of those fine analysts so that kind of question came to me easily.
Yes, I admit, when it comes to it, Nalbandian is one of my favourite fine analysts, but there are two others I like particularly: Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Not that I don’t like the others, far from it, those are the questions and answers I like best coming from players, but these three have a particular and keen sense of analysis that one can’t help but appreciate.
In the wake of the Miami tournament, Andy Murray reflected, among other things, on how it is to face an in-form Roger Federer in that interview he gave Tennis TV. Before that, he talks about the work he did after his early Indian Wells demise. An interview worth listening to until the end:
Murray is often asked to analyse his matches, the upcoming ones, his opponents’ play, and every time, I marvel at his tennis intelligence, if I can express it that way.
Of course, this also translates on-court, as the Scot is one of the best in the game when it comes to adapting his strategy to each of his opponent, and usually being able to change it well while in a match, even though he does still have issues doing so against some (like Rafael Nadal) and in some situations. In general, though, that’s one of his greatest strengths, so it’s only fitting that it also transpires when he is questioned about it.
Roger Federer is another fine example of a great analyst. When he wins, he is even more expansive on the topic, which gives jewels of press conferences, like the ones in Indian Wells (all of them worth the read when these questions were asked), or like the interview he gave yesterday following his 6-2 7-6(3) win over Ryan Harrison:
In this one, I admit that more than the answers regarding the match itself, the part about the evolution of the training methods as he grew older is really, very fascinating.
I admit, this is always the kind of material I look the most attentively at when I’m reading an interview transcript, from any player. Further than the juicy quotes that are given those who are not in attendance in various articles, these tidbits of analysis are, to me, what makes these interviews interesting, whether they are about the match that was played, game aspects, or matches to come. What impresses me the most about these post-match questions and analysis are that they are given when the player recently came out of court, à chaud.
That last part is what will never cease to amaze me.