Andy Murray is getting the band back together again.
Ivan Lendl will fly into London today to reprise his role as Murray’s coach and oversee the Scot’s last practice session before his opening match at the Aegon Championships this week. Murray could not be happier.
It was Lendl who coached Murray to his two grand slam titles – the US open in 2012 and Wimbledon the following year – and, of all his previous coaches, it is Lendl that Murray has always wanted to get back on the team. The two split in March 2014 simply because Lendl was no longer prepared to devote 20 or 25 weeks of each year to travelling. Clearly, he has changed his mind.
“I’ve always wanted to work with Ivan again,” Murray said. “That’s not something that just started this week or last week. It’s been the case for a while. It’s been maybe a longer time apart than I would have liked, but it’s good, I’m excited. I think everyone in my team is looking forward to it. We’ve got work to do now and goals to try to achieve. I think when me and Ivan spoke on the phone, I think both of us are very motivated to try and get to the top.”
The deal was struck quickly last week and, as yet, the exact details have not been negotiated but Murray sounded eager to persuade his former mentor to commit to a long-term partnership. Jamie Delgado will remain as a full time coach – he will work around 40 weeks of the year with the Scot – but Lendl is now prepared to devote good number of weeks to Murray’s cause.
“I would like it to continue for as long possible,” Murray said. “It’s not just a two or three week thing. It’s a proper coaching arrangement, whether that is 18 or 19 weeks, or 22 weeks or more in that sort of range.
“It’s important the whole team get on and gel well. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, that will be the case and I don’t see any problems there. A lot of my team have worked with Ivan before. It will be good for Jamie and Ivan to spend some time together as well. Jamie is obviously my full-time coach and is travelling with me for 40 weeks of the year. He has an extremely important role and hopefully he and Ivan will get on very well.”
In Lendl’s absence, Murray has established himself as the second best player in the world. Unfortunately, at the grand slam events, he keeps banging his head against the brick wall that is Novak Djokovic. Each time he comes away battered and bruised. But when he was last working with Lendl, it was the Serb he beat in both the US Open and Wimbledon finals. Working out a way to get the better of the world No 1 will be Lendl’s main duty when he starts work tomorrow.
“Obviously the goal is to try to win the major events and, right now, Novak holds all four [grand slam titles],” Murray said. “To to win the major events, you are more than likely going to have to get past him. That will be a big part of it but it’s about developing your game to a place where when you do come up against the best players you’re ready to do it.
“You don’t just play a different way the whole way through the tournament and then try to change your game style in the final. That’s why weeks like this are important and all the practice days you have in the build-up to the event are important to get your game in place, practice the correct things and I think that I am on the right track. I think Ivan might be able to help with some things.”
The very thought that Lendl is back in the band has given Murray’s confidence a lift and will help to erase the disappointment of another grand slam final loss to Djokovic eight days ago at the French Open. Lendl may belong to the tough-love school of coaching but Murray likes and respects the man and knows he can only learn from being around him.
“He’s a leader,” Murray said, “a strong voice, loads of experience but also we have had a lot of similar experiences so I can speak to him about that, learn from him how he dealt with similar situations, that I may be going through right now, or have done in the past. He’s a genuine team player: it’s not just about him. He works very well with the team.”