Tim Henman has firmly ruled himself out of the running to become Andy Murray’s next coach But the former British No 1 believes old school mate Jamie Delgado can keep the Scot en route to further glory this summer.
Henman is content to watch Murray, who he rates as being in the form of life, progress from the commentary box or on television.
“To be on the road, away from my family for 25 weeks of the year has no appeal whatsoever,” he told The Scotsman. “Obviously I am still involved at Wimbledon and on the board there and enjoy it and still follow the game intently. But in terms of collecting more air miles, it does not appeal.”
Better, he suggests, to stick with Delgado, who was a couple of years below Henman at Reed’s School in Surrey. Delgado was recently appointed Murray’s assistant coach after the Scot severed ties with first Jonas Bjorkman and then coach Amelie Mauresmo. Despite these changes to his backroom team, the world No 2 looks as strong as ever prior to Roland Garros, which begins on Sunday. Murray won the Rome Masters last weekend with only his second victory in 14 attempts over world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
“I like the set-up he has got,” said Henman. “Jamie Delgado is a great addition to his team. He is someone I went to school with from 12 or 13 and he did a good job with Gilles Muller in the last couple of years, getting him from 400 in the world to the top 50. I like the consistence and sense of continuity he brings. He lives in Wimbledon, he will be there for 40 weeks of the year to practice and work on all these different things with Andy.
“What I would say, it is Andy’s prerogative, he has to do what he thinks is best. If you are asking my opinion I would say more of the same. He is playing great tennis, he is playing the right way. He is in a good frame of mind. I think another voice, another person, added to the team could upset that equilibrium.”
“When also you think about his schedule,” he added “He is now going into Roland Garros then straight from clay to grass. It is the busiest time of year playing at Wimbledon and the going from there to the Olympics and from there to the US Open, I think that is a classic time for when you have to just keep it simple. So for me, I’d keep it going the way he is.”
Henman is making the first of two visits to play tennis in Scotland this year at next month’s Brodies Invitational, hosted at Gleneagles.
“I did stay at Gleneagles for Andy and Kim’s wedding with my wife, and it looked such a great place so I was slightly disappointed I didn’t get the opportunity to take advantage of all the facilities but hopefully this time I can – I will certainly have my tennis racket with me and probably my golf clubs too” Henman returns in September to play Murray in a charity match at the Hydro in Glasgow.
“There is obviously a great buzz with tennis in Britain and even more so in Scotland, what with what the Murray family has achieved,” he said. “It will be great to be there and hopefully have some fun.”
He believes Scots can enjoy boasting of Murray’s endeavours for some time to come yet. Murray turned 29 last Sunday, the age when Henman enjoyed one of his best ever years, reaching the last four at both the French and US Opens. Henman was frustrated in his attempt to make it to the final at Roland Garros when he fell to Argentinian Guillermo Coria in four sets. No British player – not even Murray – has reached the final there in over 80 years. Henman is backing Murray to do that this year – at least. And, he adds, there is still much more to come from the Scot.
“Look at Federer, he has had a tough couple of months, but he is 35 – he was two in the world last week,” said Henman. “That’s not too bad.
“Andy is playing as good tennis as he ever has – he is No 2 in the world now, as high as he has ever been. People on the outside focus on age more than the players themselves. They look at the way they are playing and the way they are feeling. I definitely think Andy can play for another five years.”
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