JOHN McEnroe would consider becoming Andy Murray’s coach if the offer came, the American tennis legend said yesterday.
Wimbledon champion Murray has been without a coach since splitting earlier this year from Ivan Lendl, with whom he enjoyed his greatest success. Lendl’s experience of winning Grand Slam titles after losing his first four finals was credited with transforming Murray from serial runner-up to major winner, and their success has led to an expectation that the Scot will again appoint someone from the top of the game.
McEnroe, 55, said that he would be tempted to try coahing should the right offer come along. “Some of these situations are tempting for anyone and you get into a part-time role,” he said. “It’s nice to see some of the other players of my generation, and some younger, being around the game. It’s a nice shot in the arm for them as well as the sport.
“My phone has not been ringing off the hook but, at the same time, if the right situation came along. . . I’m pretty busy doing my own thing but, when you get opportunities to coach great players, it’s definitely something that would be tempting.”
Asked specifically if he would consider a request from Murray, McEnroe replied: “Yes, of course.”
However, he went on to explain that a top player could not rush into making an appointment, and that, in any case, Murray knew his own game well enough not to need a coach in the short term. “I don’t think you can simply pick up and turn to another person that easily. That’s probably why he’s not with another person just now. I’m sure at one stage he’ll find someone he’s willing to take that chance with. I’m sure there are plenty of people that would love to do it. I’m sure there are plenty of people applying for the job – it’s just a matter of him settling down and deciding where he wants to go.
“He still has key people around him. Who is to say what will happen in the next two months? I don’t know if he’ll pick up someone to go along with the same group he’s had, minus Ivan.
“It’s not like he’s going to forget how to play or the things Ivan told him. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of difference – although I think that their record speaks for itself. His record with Ivan was certainly better than it was without him.”
Murray had already lost his first three major finals when he appointed Lendl at the end of 2011, and he was also beaten in the 2012 Wimbledon final.
A month later, however, he won the Olympic singles title and went on to become US Open champion that same year before taking the Wimbledon crown last summer.
McEnroe said that Lendl had not necessarily been unique in seeing which aspects of his game Murray needed to improve. But the Scot respected him enough to heed his advice. “It was not a big shock that you would say ‘Be more aggressive on the return’ when you’re dealing with one of the best returners in the game. Or that you should be more aggressive on your forehand because you have a tendency to shovel in and not put some opponents on their heels.
“These things were bandied about, but Ivan got him to do it. The respect Andy had for Ivan helped lift his ability to accept it and go with it and implement it.
“Ivan was a real stickler for detail and a real strategist. That would appeal to Andy, and some of the talks they had paid off in some of the big moments.”