Lendl key to Murray run
Andy Murray has new coach Ivan Lendl to thank if he defeats Roger Federer to bring home the Wimbledon title.
Last Updated: 08/07/12 9:37am
Andy Murray could have new coach Ivan Lendl to thank if he defeats Roger Federer to bring home the Wimbledon title.
The British number one has lost three Grand Slam finals so far in his career, but bringing in the eight-time major winner may have just added that extra bit of steel needed to take him to the next step.
Talent has never been an issue, but temperament has, and controling his emotions was a trademark of the Czech superstar during the successful point in his career - after he also struggled to get over that final hurdle initially.
After beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals, as the rest of Murray's camp, including mum Judy and girlfriend Kim Sears, leapt to their feet in celebration, Lendl sat impassively, clapping slowly a couple of times to acknowledge one of the biggest moments in his charge's career.
It was understated, a little cold even, but certainly not a surprise. Lendl's reputation as the hard man of tennis has long been established, and it seems he intends to keep it that way.
Yes, the eight-time grand slam winner has shown off his relaxed and jokey side in practice, bringing out the same in Murray, but winning matches is a serious business.
And Lendl's calm presence in the Scot's box is paying dividends.
Murray has always been an emotional player, and he has found it difficult to control those emotions in the biggest moments where matches are decided.
Lendl's approach has helped keep the 25-year-old on an even keel, and it was the same when he came off court on Friday.
Murray said: "After the match, you try to make sure you don't get too excited on the court, never get too high, never get too down, when maybe in the past I was too up and down. I needed to try to be a bit more stable on the court, not be so emotional.
"I'd say that's the one thing I've learned from being around him. After the match, it wasn't like it was jumping around the locker room with excitement. It was, 'There's one more match to go. Well done today, but let's focus on the next one'."
Lendl's no-nonsense attitude extends to his relations with the press, and asked about how his own experiences could help Murray, the 52-year-old said only: "We will talk a lot about playing the late stages in major events."
What matters is winning the final against Roger Federer and everything else is a distraction.
When the pair linked up at the end of last year, it showed both that Murray would push the boundaries to try to win a grand slam and that Lendl believed he could. The former world number one hates losing too much to be satisfied with anything else.
There have been technical improvements in Murray's game - the flatter forehand that has been such a weapon this fortnight and the kick second serve that has helped him win 65% of points with a shot that used to be a weakness.
But it is the mental strength Murray has shown that has most impressed.
Virginia Wade, whom the Scot is trying to emulate 35 years after she became the last British singles winner at Wimbledon, has at times been a critic of Murray, famously calling him a drama queen at the French Open.
Wade said: "I heard Andy say that Lendl had told him not to get too up or too down, to stay in the middle, and I think that's what everyone's been saying.
"It's been a matter of whether he respects Lendl enough to listen to him. As a tennis player your strengths are your weaknesses, and being stubborn is something that means sometimes you don't want to listen to the obvious thing."
Although this is Lendl's first coaching job, his CV shows he is more than qualified - all those slam titles, 11 other finals, and 270 weeks as world number one.
But grand slam success followed only after bitter defeats. He lost his first four finals, a mark Murray would equal were he to lose to Federer.