Strong helping hand of Ivan Lendl returns to guide Andy Murray towards more grand slam success
Andy Murray believes Ivan Lendl's tough-love approach is just what he needs to finally oust Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon this summer.
Murray announced on Sunday he would be rekindling his relationship with Lendl, with whom he enjoyed an enormously successful spell between 2012 and 2014.
Lendl will start coaching the Scot again from Tuesday, when Murray plays Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the opening round of the Aegon Championships at Queen’s.
During their first period working together, Murray won Olympic gold, the US Open and then Wimbledon in 2013, but the partnership ended as Lendl felt unable to commit the amount of time his pupil required.
Murray has not won another major title since and, after splitting with Amelie Mauresmo last month, the world number two expressed his delight at sealing the reunion.
“I have always loved working with Ivan and I would have liked to have continued working with him in the past and it’s something I’ve thought about and talked about even over the last few years as well,” Murray said.
“It’s not like I haven’t wanted to but a lot goes into coaching and Ivan’s willing to do it now. When he agrees to do something, I think he goes in 100 per cent. He’s not just going to do it a little bit.
“He’s had, obviously, a lot of offers over the last few years so even just him agreeing to do it gives me a little boost as well.”
Murray did not give the exact number of weeks Lendl would spend with him per year but suggested it would be between 18 and 22, with around 20 the amount he usually feels necessary to be beneficial.
The 29-year-old will also spend more time training near Lendl’s home in Florida while Jamie Delgado, his assistant coach, will remain on the team full-time, committing around 40 weeks to the British number one.
Murray will hope Lendl’s impact carries into Wimbledon in a fortnight’s time, when he will again bid to bring down Djokovic, his conqueror in both the Australian and French Open finals this year.
Djokovic currently holds all four major titles as well as dominance over the British number one, winning 13 of their last 15 matches, including the last five at grand slams.
“I think I’m getting closer, which is good, and I think there’s a few things Ivan can help me with there as well,” Murray said.
“I’m sure we will talk about that. Obviously the goal is to try to win the major events and right now Novak holds all four so to win the major events, you are more than likely going to have to get past him.”
Lendl has spent the last two years working with American juniors, while also having two hips replaced, but he has maintained contact with Murray.
The pair’s agents held initial discussions after the French Open before Murray and Lendl spoke on the phone on Thursday night. The Czech then gave Murray the green light via text on Saturday morning.
“He’s a leader, a strong voice, loads of experience but also we have had a lot of similar experiences,” Murray said.
“He has strong opinions as well. One of the things that I really like about working with him was that even if I’ve had a tough loss, I remember when I lost in the semi-finals of the Aussie Open to Novak, it was 7-5 in the fifth, it was the first time we had worked together.
“I was tired and the next day he wanted to meet and talk about that match. He was not going, ‘great job you did really well,’ it was, ‘OK so what is it we can do to win that match next time? How can we improve on that? I know it’s not the time you want to be speaking about that but I wouldn’t be doing my job otherwise’.
“I have won matches (with Lendl) where maybe you expect a pat on the back and you get the opposite. And sometimes I have lost matches and been told ‘you know what, you played great’.
“A lot of coaches, sometimes you win and they tell you, ‘oh great job’, regardless of how you have played, and sometimes you lose and it’s ‘oh this is terrible’. He didn’t see things that way.”