The Tennis Space briefing: what you need to know about Andy Murray’s collaboration with Ivan Lendl.
Darren Cahill was instrumental in making it happen. A hugely respected coach in his own right, Cahill worked with Murray for more than half of 2011 as part of the adidas coaching team, a system available to anyone sponsored by the sports company. His television commitments meant a full-time position was never a real possibility but he took it upon himself to recommend Lendl, whose coaching ability is the big unknown, for the role. “I really encouraged Andy to consider Ivan,” he said. “It’s not easy, when players look at these former champions, to get their heads around the fact that they are going to fully commit to the coaching job because to be quite frank a lot of these guys they can go off and in two or three days make the type of money that they can make from a full year of coaching. So it is unusual that a Lendl, a Connors or a McEnroe or any of these legends of the game would actually commit to somebody else’s career. We felt like Ivan ticked a lot of boxes in what Andy was looking for.”
Lendl has been there, not done it and then done it. The former world number one ended up with eight grand slam titles to his name but in his early days was considered something of a choker at the very highest level, losing his first four slam finals before turning it round spectacularly when he came from two sets down to beat John McEnroe in the French Open in 1984. Having lost his three grand slam finals, Murray knows that Lendl has been through it all before and come out the other side. “Sometimes it’s really only these grand slam champions, who’ve lost these crucial matches and then won them who can really relate the experience.”
No stone will be left unturned. Lendl was one of the first players to really get serious about fitness. While he would probably admit to not being the most talented player in the world, he got the best out of himself in every area of his game. Murray can expect Lendl to be exactly the same as a coach. “He has been incredibly fastidious with everything he has done with Andy and I think a lot of that is going to wear off on Andy,” Cahill said. “The way he looked at the other guys at the top and broke down their games was (impressive). He was fully in touch with what’s been happening in the game.”
Murray will improve under Lendl’s guidance. “There are no guarantees of success but I am pretty sure that by the end of it, whenever that is, Andy will be a better player because of it,” Cahill said. “There are a lot of similarities between the two. Andy can relate to Ivan and I think that makes a big difference.”
Team “Mendl” or “Lurray” will be a close-knit collaboration. “If Andy wants to phone me up at any time and talk tennis, then I’m happy to do that,” Cahill said. “But I think it’s going to be very much their team and certainly for the next couple of months, they will be spending a lot of time together and getting to know each other, which I think’s important.”