ANDY Murray has a lot on his plate this week. Not only is he trying to win the French Open but he is trying to help some of the younger lads win it, too.
It may not be this year, it may not be until Murray has hung up his racket for good but, one day, when the likes of Kyle Edmund and Thanasi Kokkinakis have made it, they will look back on the early part of their careers and know that it was Murray who helped them on their way.
“I would rather try to be one of the guys that the young guys look up to”Andy Murray
As soon as Murray had finished his last TV interview on Monday night following his 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Facundo Arguello, he sped out to court seven to cheer on Edmund in his five set win over Stephane Robert. The British No 4 has spent the last two off-seasons working with Murray in Miami and the results are plain to see – no matter that it was the first time he had gone to five sets and that he was cramping badly, he held his nerve and beat the Frenchman on his home turf.
“That’s good,” Robert said after he noticed Murray roaring Edmund on. “He supports his country. The Brits, they’re right in supporting their players. They don’t have that many players so they have to encourage them. If he’s got the support from No 1, of course he’s going to be happy. Look at this player [Edmund]. This player is so strong mentally. I didn’t make his life easy today, but he was holding to it, sticking to it. He’s very solid. He is one of the future hopes of tennis, I think.”
Tomorrow, Edmund will face Nick Kyrgios, another of the young hopes to have benefitted from practising with Murray and watching how the Scot goes about his business on the tour. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are the great hopes of Australian tennis but both are relatively new to the tour and Murray has helped them find their feet. He remembers what it was like to be young, new and friendless in the locker room and so, if Murray can help, he will.
“I was very grateful to all of the players that were nice to me when I first came on the tour, because it can be tough,” Murray said. “It’s not easy as a 17, 18-year-old coming into a locker room with older guys or people that you’ve watched on the TV and look up to. Some guys weren’t nice. And I remember that, too. I would rather try to be one of the guys that the young guys look up to and say, yeah, he was nice to me when I was coming up.”
Murray would not name any names but the memories of who was pleasant to him and who was not are as clear as ever.
“There were a few guys who would maybe swear at you when you are passing, not in the locker room, but on the court,” he said. “Some of them were just not very nice to you. In the locker room, they would laugh at you or make jokes about you. And now, if someone did it to me, you are fine to say something back. But, when you are first on the tour, you don’t take it that well because you look up to these guys.
“But also there were a lot of guys who were extremely nice, and Jonas [Bjorkman, Murray’s new coach] was actually one of them. I remember that well.
“Tim [Henman] is obviously someone who was great with me when I first came on the tour. He used to take me out to dinner and practise with me and spend time with me at the courts.
“If I was having lunch he would always come over – it just helps.
“I think when other players see someone like Tim, who is very well respected on tour, likes spending time with you and stuff, then they become a little bit more open to chatting with you and doing stuff with you.”
Murray draws the line at Joao Sousa, though. He intends to give the Portuguese no encouragement at all when the two face off tomorrow for a place in the third round. The world No 3 may take his mentoring duties seriously but he is not daft.