From student-athlete, to number 1 in the world

By Emilio Sánchez Vicario, CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy.

Work on your Actual State of Mind. Review what you are going to do to face the next step. Believe in it. (Mental)

#11 Successful Habit for Overcoming Adversity

Today is one of those days when you walk around with a big smile on your face. I am proud of what I do; I am part of the journey helping others create opportunities in tennis, education and life. Therefore when you wake up and realize that one of your student-athletes has fulfilled his potential and becomes NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD, it just fills you up with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Everything that you work for makes sense.


I still remember as if it were yesterday the first time Andy Murray came to the Sanchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona. I was chatting with his mother waiting for him to enter the court. I need to play with our students to find out their real potential, and there he was walking towards us, very skinny, knees slightly bent inwards, shoulders down, eyes on the floor. I asked him a few questions and his responses surprised me. “I want to be the best that I can be.” he said looking into my eyes. As we started playing, his doubts began to disappear and his confidence grew. He had an innate skill where difficult situations brought out his better shots: it was this spirit to survive that really impressed me.




He had a long journey in front of him, but he possessed something that only the “touched ones” have. His mental strength was very powerful for his age. So we focused on his techniques and tactical game to make his tennis ready for the pros. Additionally, we needed to develop his physical side, which was arguably his weakest element.

I can assure that his journey at Sanchez-Casal marked him as a young athlete. He became a man during those years while he was developing the pillars of his tennis game. We are so grateful that he still describes his time with us as a key stage in his development since he is a reflection of our work.



His journey to number one was not easy. When he reached the number 4 ranking in the world, he had a wall in front of him difficult to surpass. Nadal and Federer were winning everything and were impossible to approach. Then when he began to realize that he had the ability to make it to the top, Djokovic appeared and reset the level of difficulty. Nevertheless, in 2016 we have seen him persevere, work harder, invest deeper in his tennis, return to clay and win Rome. He then reviewed his actual state of mind and rehired Lendl, ending up winning Wimbledon and then the Olympics. At the US Open, he paid the physical toll of his Olympic run, but he had become by far the one to beat. He believed in it, visualized it, and after some rest came Asia and the big indoor events with four crowns and the ONE spot.

Due to Lendl and Delgado, he is in top shape, but he was always trying to be at his best. He believed in himself the most. During his last year at ASC, he had the help of Pato Alvarez and he was a top junior and ready for the pros. Almost every year since, he seems to hire a new coach, from Petchey, Gilbert, Corretja, Valverdu (his ever-present former roommate from Sanchez-Casal) to Lendl, the one who made the difference. He was always searching for perfection and he did not doubt that he would get there with the help of the best of the best. Next he tried Mauresmo, but he realized that his best came with Lendl and went back to him. I want to give credit to this pairing because the Andy we have seen this second half of 2016 is by far the best Andy that we have seen. I wrote an article as soon as I knew he was rehiring Lendl and pointed out that he was going to be the player to beat and have a great chance to fight for the throne. Now he has it! But I think that all of his coaches made their contributions and he was very clever on trying to find his fit. Analyzing every one of the changes, Andy is an example of working on his actual state of mind to keep improving.



I also want to say that his personal life has helped a lot. His mom is a coach and former player and she has always been behind him providing balance. His brother shares his profession and is half of the best doubles team in the world. They speak the same language. His wife also played and is the daughter of a renowned coach on the Women’s Tour. Together they have a child who has brought him peace. Furthermore, his agent was a player and well understands his needs. Andy Murray is tennis. He breaths tennis, loves tennis and is a great ambassador for our sport. All of his team share the same goals as him and that is helpful if we compare this to other player that bring in people from the outside which can become an issue during difficult moments.




He earned his reward at a late age, being 29. He could even lose it next week depending on the results. However, the main tests ahead will first be Australia followed by France. If the Andy retains the form that we have been accustomed to of late, the onus will be on his opponents to prevent him from retaining his number one for a long time. His well-known rivals are dealing with problems in their pillars: Federer’s are physical due to his age while Nadal’s and Djokovic’s are on the mental side. These players face situations difficult to solve so perhaps a new rivalry will emerge with Nishikori or another young promise. 2017 is going to be an interesting year!

Congrats Andy, your perseverance, determination, hard work, maturity and emotional control have made you the best and we are so proud of you and so happy to have been part of your journey. Thank you for your generosity towards Sanchez-Casal and your classmates that are all close to you.


Emilio Sánchez Vicario
CEO & Founder at Sánchez-Casal Academy


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4 thoughts on “From student-athlete, to number 1 in the world

  1. Touching. So much more to winning than just being stronger and faster than the other players. Watching Murray, it seems that he fights inner demons constantly. Nice to see a glimpse of what has occurred to help him develop into the player that he is today.

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