Sunday, 1 January 2012

Thoughts on Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray's New Coach

It had been rumoured that Ivan Lendl would be announced as Andy Murray's new coach, and the Scot confirmed the other day that he has signed on. It will be fascinating to see the impact Lendl might possibly have on his game, and how the 8 time Grand Slam champion can contribute to helping Murray towards his first. It is also interesting because of the parallel between Lendl and Murray, in that Lendl took several attempts before he won his first major, and similarly Murray has made three slam finals but come up short each time without winning a set. Lendl is the perfect inspiration for Murray to remain persistent and to keep positive despite his numerous failures and set backs throughout the year. 2011 has been Murray's best year by far, in which he made a final and three semi finals at all four Grand Slams, and Lendl could be the key to crack the nut and go one further by winning his first major. He may also try to instil in Murray the icy resilience and level headed demeanour which many remember Lendl for, and this may be beneficial in helping Murray overcome the troughs in his year that usually follow from taking tough losses in Grand Slams. After losing in the 2010 and 2011 Australian Opens, Murray fell into the doldrums each time, playing negative tennis and losing to players he shouldn't normally be losing to. Lendl may be able to help Murray overcome these periodical problems, improve his on court attitude, and manage him so he peaks at the majors and avoids losses he shouldn't really be enduring for a player of his calibre.

How Lendl will affect Murray's strategy and playing style will remain to be seen and we can't expect to see much difference in the next few weeks up until the Australian Open. But perhaps he will encourage Murray to execute a more aggressive approach and adopt more positive tactics on court. However, Murray has had professional disagreements in the past, notably with Brad Gilbert, and he is stubborn enough not to listen to advice suggesting to him that he needs to play more consistently aggressive tennis. But I think that the presence of Lendl is a very positive collaboration and that Murray will be willing to listen to what he has to say, and to put into action counsel which may well earn him his first Grand Slam. It is a bold, significant move which goes with the flow of tennis' continual improvement under the aegis of the current top 3, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, and signals that Murray is ready to compete amongst them for the majors.

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