With every passing week, Andy Murray keeps saying that he is getting closer to appointing a new coach. But, while both his followers and detractors are getting impatient as they await the announcement of Ivan Lendl’s successor, Darren Cahill has warned the Wimbledon champion to bide his time.
Cahill is the voice of reason to whom Murray has turned in the past when he has been between coaches. The former guide to Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, the quiet and unassuming Cahill now earns his keep as a TV commentator with ESPN and as the most senior figure in the Adidas player development programme, a pool of coaching talent available to all Adidas-sponsored players. It was that role that first brought Murray and Cahill together before Lendl was appointed and it is quite clear that Murray likes, trusts and respects the Australian. “For me the most important thing is that Andy picks someone he feels can be with him for the rest of his career,” Cahill told ESPN. “The sooner Andy Murray appoints a new coach the better, no question about it, but he doesn’t need to be in any big rush. Andy has to be very careful about selecting that right person and he’s doing his due diligence very, very nicely.
“Andy needs that little extra. He’s the type of guy and the type of personality that needs inspiration every time he steps onto the practice court. He needs good direction and to know what he’s working on and why.
“It sounds much simpler than it really is but for Andy to look to the side of the court and see someone who has travelled down the same path as the one he’s travelling down, I think for him that makes a big difference. “Ivan did an incredible job with him. He gave him the structure and the right information about how to play the big moments and how to get the best out of his game. He’s brought something to Andy’s game. A lot of coaches would struggle to do that. Ivan came in and gave him that five per cent extra and it worked beautifully for him. That’s what Andy’s going to look for this time around.”
Many names have been bandied about in the past few weeks, from John McEnroe to Mats Wilander, from Larry Stefanki to Leon Smith, but most of the sensible money agrees that Cahill would be the perfect match for Murray. Alas, Cahill has a young family and a very profitable career carved out for himself already. If he were to return to coaching, he could only do it full-time and, put frankly, he does not want to tear his life apart for the sake of one player, even if it is the current Wimbledon champion. Not that Cahill thinks it matters how long Murray takes to find his perfect coach.
“If Andy gets to Wimbledon and doesn’t have a new coach in place, there shouldn’t be any panic,” he said. “Can he win Wimbledon without a new coach? Absolutely. It’s only a matter of time before he finds that confidence again. He’s got the game, he knows how to win the big moments now.”
For the moment, though, Murray is only focused on the match ahead of him: Andrey Golubev, the Russian-born Kazakh he will face in the first round of the French Open today. They have met only twice before, once on the tour in the St Petersburg final, and once in the Hopman Cup, an exhibition event. On both occasions, Murray won with ease, but they have not met since 2010. Since then, Golubev has thundered up the rankings and just last month beat Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup. “That was one of my best wins, for sure, especially because of the moment,” Golubev said. “Davis Cup, quarter-finals, Switzerland away – it’s not easy to play. I was happy with that. It gives me big confidence. Games in the Davis Cup, it’s a completely different competition. When you play top guys, their standard is very high even if they play not so good. You have to be almost perfect with your tactics and your game style and believe in yourself.”
After his previous results against Murray, Golubev knows he will need a little more than just belief to get him through. Then again, the Kazakh is not your run-of-the-mill player. A reader of Dostoevsky, he tries not to concentrate solely on tennis but, instead, take a “360 degree view” of life, as he puts it. And while he is doing that, he hopes to find a degree course in marketing administration in order to broaden his horizons even further.
But, allowing himself a rare moment of blinkered vision and focusing back in on the problem of Murray, Golubev is taking little comfort from the fact the Scot has not been in a final since Wimbledon last year and still has not hit his peak after having back surgery last autumn. “I see him playing better now after the surgery,” Golubev said bleakly. “I can understand it’s difficult to get back to the top level. He’s playing better tennis now. Every match is different. We’ve never met on clay. It’s a good challenge for me. Of course it’s not easy to play top guys on any surface. When we go on court, everyone has a 50: 50 chance. Then he has to show he is better than me, and, of course, I will try my best.”