The Andy Murray-Ivan Lendl partnership has scored a resounding ‘Like‘ from the tennis community. Here’s 10 cool things about the power duo.
1. Muzza zipped. We won't see Andy launching tirades at his player box anymore.
2. Empathy. Not a quality readily associated with Ivan the iron man. But as Lendl pointed out before joining his new charge in Australia, Murray’s Slamless scenario is Groundhog Day for him. ‘I have been in this movie,’ said the ex-Czech, who lost four major finals before bagging his first aged 24, tennis middle age, at the 1984 French Open. Murray, at 24, is 0-3 in major finals. Lendl turned a downer into a happy ending with eight career Slams. He clearly identifies with Murray and believes he can help.
3. Welcome back Ivan. Always great to have a former champion back in the game, especially a sharp observer like Lendl. His absence lasted 16 years after his 1994 retirement.
4. Home truths. Murray needn't worry about Lendl sugar-coating his message. Having banked over $20 million in official prize money over his career, the 51-year-old Lendl is a lot less reliant on a paycheque than most coaches.
5. Who’s boss. Yes, Murray is the employer here, but Lendl is arguably the first coach Murray hasn’t had control over. Lendl doesn’t need the gig, and is no career coach.
6. Leap of faith. Lendl is putting himself out there, having never coached at the top level before. It's a gamble for both men.
7. Tinker, tailor. Lendl isn’t reinventing the wheel. Business as usual for the Murray team: trainer Jez Green, physio Andy Ireland and coach/hitting partner Daniel Vallverdu. That Lendl’s role is presumably more psychological and tactical is a sign that a Grand Slam breakthrough doesn’t require major works. That’s a big vote of confidence coming from an eight-times major winner.
8. Humour with bite. Both lay on the sarcasm. Murray is more deadpan, Lendl can be cutting. Can’t wait for the joint press conference.
9. Media wars. Both men have felt besieged and misunderstood by the media. Lendl was perceived as a chilly, condescending, communist bully boy with a nice forehand. Murray has been saddled with the ‘dour Scot’ tag, and the burden of breaking the most infamous drought in tennis: Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam winner.
10. Retro argyle. Murray is an Adidas man and Lendl was one for much of his career, winning a bunch of Slams in his signature Argyle shirt. And Argyle originated in … Scotland. A sign?
*Andy Murray plays Ryan Harrison at Hisense Arena today, third match.