At the 2014 French Open, British superstar Andy Murray was asked to assemble the ultimate World Cup soccer team, but with a twist: He could only select tennis players.
He did OK. But his squad could use some improvement.
Let's start out with his formation. Manager Murray went with a 4-3-3, which is a little bit too aggressive. Tennis players need to know when to be aggressive, and when to be a more conservative to succeed on the court. Considering the players Murray selected, the team would be more successful with a 4-4-2, with a defensive midfielder and an attacking midfielder.
His choice in goal was interesting. Michael Llodra is a 34-year-old Frenchman, who is well experienced in the ATP tour. Experience always works out with goalkeepers in the World Cup. Guys like Gianluigi Buffon of Italy and Oliver Kahn of Germany saw great success in goal for a long time. Llodra also has great size at 6-3 and 176 pounds. He's lanky and has the ability to leap all around nimbly. Solid choice.
Murray's choice in defense is also respectable. Nenad Zimonjic is relatively tall for a soccer/tennis player at 6-3. You really need someone back there who is willing to go up for the ball aggressively, and that's the exact style of play of Zimonjic. That said, Jerzy Janowicz is too tall. There has never been a successful 6-8 soccer player.
I would shift Novak Djokovic to play central defense alongside Zimonjic. This is perfect. Both are Serbian, meaning they could communicate well with one another, something that is so crucial in a soccer team's success. On top of that, Serbia has produced some pretty successful defenders recently in Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasić, who both play defense for Manchester City, the winners of the English Premier League.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is an aggressive quick player, and has a little bit more meat on his bones at 200 pounds. If he can bully people off the ball, he would be super effective on the right. Murray's team needs a left back who can press up offensively, kind of like USA's DaMarcus Beasley. Murray needs someone with speed. My vote would be for American James Blake. He is extremely fast, and would be great and pushing the ball up, as well as recovering.
Murray is wasting Rafael Nadal on the left. A guy like Nadal, who is a magician on the court, would be equally great as an attacking midfielder, not on the left. Murray also included a female tennis player on his team but made a mistake picking Amélie Mauresmo. Why not pick eighth-ranked Maria Sharapova? Here's my reasoning. Sharapova has the loudest ranked tennis grunt. She would be perfect as a defensive midfielder, communicating with everyone on the pitch.
David Ferrer is an excellent choice for left midfield, as you have to have as many Spanish midfielders as possible. I would also add German Tommy Haas on the right. If he can take any pointers from Mesut Özil, he would be deadly.
But how on earth does Murray choose a guy in Sebastien Grosjean, a guy who has been retired for nearly four years, and not choose Roger Federer? Federer is the definition of a sniper on the tennis court, and would equally do so on a soccer field. This guy has earned a spot on the team, as he would be as deadly as Miroslav Klose. Is Murray taking a page out of Jürgen Klinsmann's book? Where's the respect?