Wimbledon: Laidback and logical, Lendl in no mood to show emotion
THERE are many reasons for hoping Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, although the most mischievous of these is the opportunity it would provide to gauge the reaction of Ivan Lendl.
The Scot’s coach has lived up to his reputation as the Ice King so far this tournament. In one delicious moment during Saturday evening’s third round clash between Murray and Marcos Baghdatis, the Scot, having manoeuvred himself back into the contest, turned to shake a clenched fist in the direction of his family and backroom staff, most of whom were displaying an equal amount of high emotion.
Lendl, however, just looked on from his seat and simply took another sip from his bottle of water. The further Murray goes in this tournament, the cooler Lendl becomes. Next to the more demonstrative members of Team Murray, Lendl looks like to be of the same mind as Star Trek’s Mr Spock, who famously viewed emotions as being illogical.
Informed yesterday that he seemed “unemotional” during Murray’s four set victory over Baghdatis, the Florida-based coach replied: “You mean I’m not falling out of the box like Danny [Vallverdu, his more excitable assistant coach]? If I ever get fed up with him I can just push him over on to the court. No, that’s me and I don’t see any need to change my style.”
Lendl took the same approach during a playing career which saw him claim eight Grand Slam titles, although he never managed to win Wimbledon, finishing runner-up in 1988 and 1989. Someone wondered yesterday whether a Murray victory here might make up for his own disappointments in SW19. Bad move. “You guys are well over-thinking everything,” he replied. “You are so far out of the ball park, you’re so far in left-field you have no idea, you obviously don’t know me at all. You are overthinking.”
We’ll take that as a no, then. Lendl added that he is used to taking a more considered view, having spent years over-seeing the careers of golf-playing daughters. Three of his five daughters with wife Samantha play at nationally-ranked levels in the United States.
“I’ve had a lot of training for this with my kids in golf and many times I’ve caddied for them or followed them,” he said. “I never showed any emotion or nerves because it just transferred to the kid and I thought it served me and them well. I don’t see this is any different. This is a higher level but the principle is the same.”
Lendl did, at least, express some contentment with the way things have gone so far for Murray, who plays Marin Cilic on Court No 1 today in the fourth round. Including the Croat, Murray leads 5-1 in head-to-head meeting with the three players expected to block his path to the final, although Lendl has no time for those who tempt fate in such a way.
“When the draw came out you could see there were no easy opponents,” said Lendl. “[Nikolay] Davydenko knows how to play tennis. He has been at number three in the world, [Ivo] Karlovic has won big matches and he was averaging 119 mph between his first and second serve. I don’t think I hit a first serve that hard. Baghdatis is also a good player, a former finalist of the Australian Open. To me, it doesn’t really matter who your opponent is providing he knows how to play tennis. These days you have to be at your best.
“You are always happy when you’re still in the tournament,” he added. “If you get into the second week you have got a chance, otherwise you are off fishing or golfing or whatever you want to do. So I’ve got to be pleased with it.”
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