AMÉLIE Mauresmo believes Andy Murray is in “a good place” as he bids to win a second Wimbledon crown. The French coach has been almost ever-present by Murray’s side in SW19 despite being nearly eight months pregnant with her first child.
She can’t quite go everywhere with him. The men’s locker room is out of bounds to her, at Wimbledon as elsewhere. It is just another complication to be overcome. But despite the obvious distractions, Team Murray are thriving. Mauresmo is now hoping to sign off for her temporary period of leave by seeing her charge re-claim the Wimbledon title.
Murray has hired Jonas Bjorkman as an auxiliary and he will take over as Murray’s main coach and confidante when Mauresmo gives birth. But while she hasn’t been hitting with her charge, Mauresmo has been on the practice courts as normal, bump very much in evidence.
The current three-person set-up appears to be working well after Murray’s smooth progress to the last eight stage at Wimbledon. Mauresmo is delighted Murray has been united with someone as simpatico to his needs as Bjorkman – “I definitely wanted Andy and us to find someone that would fit him and the team and would carry on the good work that he’s been doing and putting in the last few months,” she said, as she anticipated her maternity leave.
Now Bjorkman can relay messages to Murray before matches. But Mauresmo explained that being barred from the locker room isn’t a huge inconvenience in any case. “If Andy feels stressed or worried, we can communicate,” she said. “For example, he can come out earlier before a match so we can talk.” They can also communicate by phone. “It is above all Andy who has had to adapt,” she said, when asked about the female-male dynamic. “My old coach [Loic Courteau] was a man. He couldn’t go in the women’s locker-room. I was therefore used to that.”
As for Murray’s Wimbledon ambitions, which hinge on today’s quarter-final clash with Vasek Pospisil, she added: “He’s in a good place, but it’s still a long way and it’s still important right now to look at one match at a time.”
The Scot seems more content now than ever before. Although he became the first British male to win the Wimbledon title in 77 years in 2013 under Ivan Lendl, Mauresmo’s predecessor, their relationship seemed an unequal one – Murray appeared in awe of him.
“He maybe felt more judged before [with Ivan Lendl],” said Mauresmo. “Between guys, there is always a competitive side. I am not into that.”
Mauresmo was appointed just over 12 months ago and their partnership got off to an initially rocky start. Murray reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the quarter-finals at the US Open. The year then ended on a significant low-note after Murray suffered a 6-0, 6-1 humbling at the hands of Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour finals in London.
“The team was in a very different place at the time,” said Mauresmo. “I definitely wasn’t happy with that [Federer result]. But I also thought that there was not going to be a miracle between the level he had in the summer and getting back to the highest level, without really working on the things that needed to be worked on.
“He had played basically almost every week, going pretty far in the tournaments. There was no way you could work on the specifics that he needed.”
They retreated together to Miami for a training camp at the end of 2014. But there was one other difficulty to overcome: Mauresmo’s morning sickness.
“December and January was a bit tough for me, let’s put it this way,” said Mauresmo. “I don’t think he noticed anything. You feel more tired, definitely, but it was a big challenge. It was just me. We had not found yet someone to share the time so basically you have no choice, you have to get on with it.”