Can Lendl Answer the If’s and When’s of Murray’s Major Chances?

Andy Murray

Andy Murray (Credit E. Gudris)

Why the photo of Andy Murray when he played at the Farmers Classic in L.A. back in 2010?

Because it was during that event that the worldwide debate began over who would coach Murray after he parted ways with Miles Maclagan post-Wimbledon that year. But after 18 months of going it alone more or less, along with hearing the endless denials from Darren Cahill that he would take on the job full-time, Murray made headlines in the last hours of 2011 with the announcement that Ivan Lendl will be his new coach, making his debut at this month’s Australian Open.

Many on hearing the news expressed outright shock at the selection though back in March last year, Lendl hinted he was interested in helping Murray though few believed it would actually happen, mostly based on the theory that the perceived stubborn personalities of both men would clash too often to make it a fruitful relationship. Well, theory is now reality as Lendl has said he believes he can give Murray the extra edge he’s been missing to finally help the Scot reach his goal of winning a Major title. And who better than Lendl who himself reached three Major finals before winning his first at the 1984 French Open before going on to win eight Majors in his career.

After the initial shock wore off, reaction, especially from the notoriously fickle UK media, was mostly positive though that honeymoon could be short-lived. It was Murray’s decision to make, but if he gets credit for it at all down the line is doubtful. If his partnership with Lendl yields Grand Slam or even Olympic glory in 2012, Lendl will likely get all the praise as being the experienced guide Murray has needed for so long. But if Murray produces the same results as 2011, even with Lendl by his side, then the Scot will probably get raked over the coals once again by media and fans alike, branded as either being too stubborn to change or labeled impossible to coach by anyone, Major champion or not.

Though the “Big Three” have had stable coaching relationships for many years now, Murray’s “single” status over the last year and a half should have earned him more credit than he’s received, simply because he’s been able to achieve some very good results all on his own accord. But very good is not good enough, especially when you keep getting compared to the other three men ahead of you who, when their achievements are combined, share a total of 30 Major titles. Some contend that what Murray really needs isn’t a coach, but a full-time sports psychologist to help him become mentally stronger especially when he competes against the likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Majors. Lendl can possibly help in this area but again, it’s hard to predict what exactly Lendl is going to be able to achieve either technically or mentally with Murray. He may need a support team that consists of a coach, sports psychologist and someone who has attended one of the sports management colleges.

The drumbeat chorus of “when will Murray win a Major” has been growing louder over the past few years, so loud to the point that even some non-Murray fans are wishing he would just hurry up and do it already so that they don’t have to keep hearing about it ad nasueum everytime a Slam rolls around. The consensus is still more “when” and not “if” Murray finally goes seven rounds and claims the first Major title for a UK man since Fred Perry. But when and if Lendl’s new alliance with Murray produces not just very good results but extraordinary ones needed for Murray to take the next step in his career will certainly make this new partnership fascinating to watch over the coming year.

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