It’s 1st January and just like so many of us would have said, “my goodness where did the year go” with regards to 2011, we will be saying that all too soon for this new year. Very soon the cry will be “what happened...
It’s 1st January and just like so many of us would have said, “my goodness where did the year go” with regards to 2011, we will be saying that all too soon for this new year. Very soon the cry will be “what happened to January?”   Already the tennis season has started with a revelation that Ivan Lendl, someone I would consider a close friend and who I have known for 30 years, has agreed to work as coach to Andy Murray. This will be Ivan’s first foray into coaching and it will be interesting to see how he takes to the job.   In all the years I have known him, never has he shirked on his work ethic. He changed the face of men’s tennis just like Martina Navratilova did with women’s tennis. His diets and training from the 1980’s are legendary and it forced others to follow in an effort to keep up with him.   Andy Murray better be prepared to work, not to say that he doesn’t now, but this will be different and Lendl will not back down.   It was suggested when this appointment was announced that great players don’t really make great coaches with the example raised being Jimmy Connors and Andy Roddick. I think there is more chance of this association working. Roddick is just as extroverted as Connors so in one sense it’s not surprising that didn’t work. Murray is more reserved by comparison and doesn’t garner as much attention as Roddick did that time, except of course when he is playing in the UK. Ivan is also a bit more reserved. My example to counteract the Connors-Roddick tandem is the great Tony Roche with Lendl.   Murray has been chasing Lendl for some time. This whole thing was raised last March and I spoke directly to Ivan at the time. I phoned him and asked him if there was any truth to the rumour and he flatly denied it … and it was the case at that time. Some people had just jumped the gun and in fact he was amused.   But the Murray clan renewed the discussions not that long ago and the terms and situation were obviously right and as a result Ivan Lendl is on board to try and guide Murray to a first major. It was not till his fifth time in a Grand Slam final did Lendl win his first (Roland Garros); Murray has now lost three.   This is not going to be an indefinite arrangement. Ivan has a lot of other interests to look after. He has his family, wife Samantha and five daughters most of whom are tremendous golfers and one is an equestrian. Then there is the promotional arm of his business, he is one of the promoters of the Showdown at Madison Square Garden sponsored by BNP Paribas, then there is his tennis academy and tennis clubs and his stints playing on the celeb golf tour and he recently got back playing dead men’s tennis (senior tour).   Ivan will make a very good coach and I am not being biased saying that because he is my friend. His knowledge and experience should be bottled but let’s see if Andy Murray is willing to take everything on board, all the time. He cannot be the one ruling the roost, that’s Lendl’s job. At the same time don’t expect Murray’s fortunes to turn around immediately.   Sure they have had a couple of sessions but Lendl’s first event will be the Australian Open. I think they will actually get on pretty well but Murray better be prepared for his coach’s warped sense of humour, something I have fallen prey to more often than I care to remember.   One thing I am pleased about is that I will get to see Ivan a lot more rather than for a bit in Miami or the US Open or messaging by email or by phone.   Happy New Year!