Andy Murray was a grand-slam runner up, a part of a British Davis Cup side on the slide, and looking for something new in late 2011.
At the start of the New Year 2012, it was announced the Scot had appointed winner of 94 ATP Tour titles, along with 8 grand-slam titles, the tennis great Ivan Lendl, as his coach.
Two years later now, and Murray is a two time grand-slam winner, having conquered Wimbledon and ruled the US, as well as a part of a British Davis Cup team on the up.
Yet late last week Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl mutually called time on their eventful two year partnership, deciding to go their separate ways.
Like his former coach Lendl, Murray had been in four grand-slam finals before finally winning a five set thriller with Novak Djokovic in September of 2012. Going from strength to strength, Murray then became the first man since Fred Perry all those years ago to win his home tennis tournament in SW19.
Lendl found resilience in Murray. The coach changed the face of Murray’s mentality, making him cherish the pressure of the big stage and challenge the history books. Like a parent with their child before their first day at school, Lendl laid the foundations and taught Murray. Yet like the parent and child analogy, a time comes when the child leaves the clutch of his or her mother’s hand behind them, and it becomes the child’s turn to show what he or she has learned.
Murray has to do the same thing now, in his post-Lendl era. It will be an opportunity to flourish and improve further as a player.
At the time in 2011 when Murray needed a pick-me up and it seemed he needed someone to take him that extra yard, he found that in Ivan. Now he has passed that stage, he’s approaching a new time in his career, and has developed and matured into a champion.
At different stages in life, people need different things to increase motivation, or to see the world in different ways.
Andy Murray is approaching this time, and with ties now loosened and Lendl a friend rather than coach, the Wimbledon winner, who is now playing in Miami, can seek to find a different coach. He will search for someone to give him an atypical viewpoint, a representative of the latest step in a career heading for its peak.
Areas to look for in a new coach could be related to Murray’s form in the French Open. Murray is yet to reach a French Open final, and a possible replacement for Ivan Lendl could coincide with a desire to rewrite the statistics of British players at Roland Garros.
The determined and driven Dunblane schooled attitude, which also was impacted by the early stages of Murray’s tennis development in Spain, has always been Murray’s strength. Lendl channelled those emotions Murray had on court. Now it’s an opportunity for Murray to expand on other areas of his game.
If the decision to make Murray’s coach British, such as perhaps reverting to former junior coach Leon Smith, this would also improve British Tennis. Such a position would develop Smith further as a coach, an experience that could be recycled back into the LTA.
Tennis on the whole may be impacted by this one player’s decision to hire a new coach.
Now Lendl has much more time on his hands, he can focus on his tennis academies in South Carolina, United States. The young players of America and those that choose to come from overseas to the academies will see the benefits of Lendl’s pausing of a full-time coaching career on the professional circuit, and can surely see the standards of tennis continuing to jump.
This change in Murray’s coaching staff and future game will undoubtedly affect the direction of tennis, and will be exciting to watch as it unfolds.
What aspects does Andy Murray need in a coach following calling time on he and Lendl’s partnership?