Henri Leconte urges Andy Murray to follow Roger Federer lead
HENRI Leconte believes Andy Murray should look at the example set by Roger Federer as he bids to break his grand slam duck in 2012.
The Scot has reached three grand slam finals, at the US Open in 2008 and the Australian Open for the past two years, but has so far failed to win a set.
Those Melbourne defeats were the most disappointing, particularly this year’s loss to Novak Djokovic, when he won only nine games and was thoroughly outplayed.
Murray’s desire is not in question – the defeats hit him so hard it took him months to recover both in 2010 and this year – and former world No 5 Leconte thinks that is part of the problem. He says the 24-year-old from Dunblane has been so tight and tense on the big stage that he has been unable to play anything like his best tennis.
Leconte, who is playing in this week’s AEGON Masters Tennis sponsored by Chilean wine producer Casillero del Diablo, said: “He has the tennis, he has the talent but he has to realise it’s great to be there and play in grand slam finals and semi-finals and not put pressure on himself. He has everything to win a grand slam and he has to believe that. Just look at Roger winning so many grand slams and being so relaxed.”
Murray has been without a full-time coach since splitting from Miles Maclagan in the summer of 2010, choosing instead to work with Australian Darren Cahill through the adidas player development programme at various points during the year.
But Cahill is not available to the world No 4 during grand slams because of his television commitments, and Murray relies on friend Dani Vallverdu on a day-to-day basis.
Leconte, who reached the French Open final in 1988, believes that is an area Murray should be looking at, and he said: “I think a coach is very important when you are at such a high level, having someone to give you advice and make you stronger. You don’t need a babysitter or someone to tell you how great you are all the time, and it’s not always a good thing to have someone at every event, but the right person can make the difference.”
Ending his long wait for a grand slam title is unlikely to be any easier for Murray next year, with Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Federer still the men to beat.
Djokovic has just completed one of the best seasons in tennis history, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open and putting together a winning streak of 41 matches between January and June.
But Leconte feels the Serb has a real challenge on his hands to avoid the pitfalls of trying to live up to an almost impossible standard. “This year has been just unbelievable for him but it’s going to be really, really difficult for him next year,” said the 48-year-old. “You have to respect the fact that 2012 is another year and just recover and be ready.”
Recovery will certainly be key for the world No 1, who went out of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London in the group stages last week after admitting he was mentally and physically exhausted.
Djokovic, Murray and Nadal in particular have been pushing for the season to be reduced in length, with Davis Cup finalists such as the Spaniard given less than a month off. The calendar has been cut by two weeks from next season but half of that was achieved simply by removing the week in between the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals.
Leconte believes much more must be done, and he said: “It’s way too long. The ATP need to follow what they’ve done on the WTA. They really need to work on that because it’s not necessary to play so long, it’s absurd. They have to cut down a lot of tournaments.”
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