US Open: Andy Murray and Mauresmo back in groove

Andy Murray: Back out practising. Picture: Getty
Andy Murray: Back out practising. Picture: Getty
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The look on Amelie’s face was priceless as Andy Murray twitched and jerked his way through successive bouts of cramp to win his first round match at the US Open on Monday. After only two months as the head coach of Team Murray, life on the road with Scotland’s finest is still new to her – was it always going to be like this?

Fortunately, the world No 9 took less than an hour to recover from his problems and yesterday he was back out practising on the courts in the heat of the day, working up a decent sweat and looking absolutely fine. He is still trying to get to the bottom of exactly why he started cramping and while he is not letting on about what he has found, by all accounts Murray will be all right from now on.

“I’ll just try to work out what it was,” he said in an interview in the New York Times, “look at everything I drank, everything I eat, and make sure I do everything I can to recover. There’s a few things that it could have been, but I don’t want to say anything specific because that could be completely wrong. But, yeah, there’s a few things you can do differently.”

Mauresmo’s appointment as Murray’s coach has long been accepted in Europe but in the United States, it is still raising eyebrows. Then again, tennis only makes back page news for two weeks of the year in America – and even then, the US Open coverage can be downgraded by football pre-season training and the endless baseball results. In such an environment, Mauresmo is big news.

Patiently explaining himself, Murray is at pains to point out that Mauresmo’s appointment had nothing to do with her being a woman; she got the job because Murray thought she would be good at it. And as he prepares for today’s match against Matthias Bachinger, he clearly thinks he has found the right person to advise him.

“I’m just of the feeling that it’s not about gender but about the right person to do the job,” he said. “Sometimes, ten men could get hired over ten women, and sometimes, it should also work the other way around. It’s about finding the right personality for the situation and the right person, basically. And to me, it isn’t about whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s about finding the right person for the situation, for the team’s or the individual’s needs.

“Just because there’s differences in the women’s game, in the men’s game – definite differences, that’s clear when you’re watching the matches – but a woman can have just as good of an understanding of the men’s game as anyone else.”

Given that Mauresmo was presented with a Wimbledon and US Open champion and an Olympic gold medallist to work with, it is hardly surprising she has not tried to make too many changes to his game – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But that is not what Murray was looking for when he hired her.

“It’s not necessarily to bring her game into mine,” Murray said, “it’s just more that, if there are things that I can do on the court which I’m not necessarily tapping into or haven’t been using the last couple of years, I feel like it’s something that she can help me get back to and 
explain to me better.

“But there are a lot of coaches that have played completely different game styles from their players. It’s just about the way they see the game and if they can explain things to their players in a way that makes the player understand it. That’s really the most important part of being a good coach.”

The most important part of Mauresmo’s job today is to make sure Murray eats well and drinks plenty before he steps on court. Provided there is no repeat of Monday’s medical drama, the former champion ought to have given his US Open challenge a bit of momentum come the end of play.