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'Andy Murray should wait until after Wimbledon to pick new coach'

Features - Barry Cowan Posted 20th March 2014 view comments

All eyes will be on Andy Murray at the Sony Open in Miami.

People will be eager to see whether he can retain the title he won for the second time last year, but there will be added pressure, too, because of his early-ish exit at Indian Wells and his split with coach Ivan Lendl.

Vallverdu (L) can keep Murray ticking over after departure of Lendl

Vallverdu (L) can keep Murray ticking over after departure of Lendl

Andy loves proving people wrong so while his chances of lifting the trophy are not as high as others, I am not going to discount his hopes entirely because he hasn't suddenly turned into an average player!

Murray wasn't far off beating Milos Raonic in the fourth round at Indian Wells and he lost in a third-set tiebreak against an in-form Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals in Acapulco the week before, so it's not like he's starting from zero.

Andy has found it hard to set new goals since winning Wimbledon so he may enjoy a fresh approach.

Barry Cowan
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He has an element of form at the moment, while I think the parting of the ways with Lendl, which initially surprised me, has come at a good time and could turn out to be a very positive move.

That's not to denigrate what Andy and Ivan achieved together - an Olympic gold medal and the US Open and Wimbledon titles - and the partnership was key in making Murray believe he was capable of winning big matches.

But Andy has not found things easy since winning in SW19 last year - he hasn't been at his best, he has had back surgery and has found it hard to set new goals - so he may enjoy a fresh approach.

The separation makes sense, too, with Murray now in Miami, a place where he has garnered success before; has a training base and apartment; and feels extremely comfortable.

It's a perfect time for him to plan ahead - though I don't expect him to rush into a decision over his next coach until after Wimbledon, because he still has a good team around him, including long-time friend Dani Vallverdu.

Appointing Lendl - who was not always by his side at tournaments - was not a knee-jerk decision, and I think Andy will be equally careful when picking someone this time around as he maps out what he wants to achieve over the next few years.

Boost

Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, was pretty patchy throughout Indian Wells but his confidence built slowly and he went on to beat Roger Federer in the final, so he is my favourite to reign supreme in Miami.

I think he will take so much from playing poorly at the beginning of the final against Federer, but then bouncing back to triumph, and he looked like the Novak of old in the third set.

Winning Indian Wells - which took his tally of Masters 1000 titles to 17 - without playing his best should give Novak a real boost and it will be ominous for the rest when he rediscovers his top form.

Rafa Nadal has to be second-favourite for Miami - I know he lost early to Alexandr Dolgopolov in Indian Wells, but he traditionally does not have two bad tournaments in a row - and Roger Federer third, but after that there are a lot of questions.

Stanislas Wawrinka thought he was very poor mentally in Indian Wells so he will be looking to regroup, and it will be interesting to see whether Dolgopolov has another big run after getting to the semi-finals in the Californian desert.

I never had Dolgopolov down as a top-10 player - he was very good in 2012 but last year he looked like he was running on empty and getting little enjoyment from the sport - but he is very entertaining, has a lot of talent and could yet get into the single-digit rankings.

It may have to be next year, though, because, as we saw in the semis in Indian Wells against Federer, he still has a few rough edges, which you can't really afford to have to regularly compete with the top guys nowadays.

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