Andy Murray"s warrior spirit fuelled by laws of Lendl

Murray's warrior spirit fuelled by the uncompromising laws of Lendl

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 29 March 2012

Nearly three months into the Andy Murray-Ivan Lendl project and we are starting to get a measure of the famously uncompromising attitudes that once marked the 52-year-old Czech's playing career.

Murray's reward for overcoming a stomach upset to beat world No 9 Janko Tipsarevic is Friday's semi-final against Rafael Nadal at the Sony Ericsson Open, and it is going to be a fascinating marker.

Quick learner: Pupil Murray mastering key aspects of his mentor's former unflinching style

Quick learner: Pupil Murray mastering key aspects of his mentor's former unflinching style

Talking to the ever-engaging Lendl, resplendent in a shirt of his hometown football club Banik Ostrava, you speculate whether Murray would have beaten Tipsarevic in these circumstances a year ago, or if he would have gone down in a hail of frustration-induced expletives directed at his coaching box.

'I can't answer that,' said Lendl. 'But in golf there is a saying that when people whine about their score, or their opponent makes a par by chipping in, “There are no pictures on the scorecard”.

'A win is a win. In tennis, whether you have a bad tummy or a broken leg, one guy goes through and it had better be you.

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

The caps fit: Lendl (left) has every confidence in his pupil (right)

'He is out there to do one thing, and that is to get a win. He is not out there to show what a great sense of humour he has got.'

What is clear is that a strong sense of kinship has developed between the two.

Lendl says all the good things he first saw in Murray have been confirmed since they took up in January, and it helps that he can identify with some of the facets of a man half his age.

He remains baffled some still view Murray as a bit of a misery.

'But that was the same with me,' he said. 'You cannot judge someone on what they are like when they are working, it's unfair, he's just trying to win. He's a very polite young man, he's so polite to everybody, people who just come up to him. He's a really good guy.'

Miami slice: Murray returns the ball to Janko Tipsarevic

Miami slice: Murray returns the ball to Janko Tipsarevic

That much came as no surprise to Lendl, but there has already been the odd revelation.

'Andy is such a quick learner, I knew he was a hard worker but as a learner he's surprised me a bit.

'It used to take me 18 months to pick some things up. He's far quicker than me but then he has more talent than I ever had. Look at his hands, he has wonderful hands, look at the angles he creates. The strings they use these days help, but I could never do that.'

Lendl has taken a forensic approach to coaching, and you can already see some of it bearing fruit, such as his client being more aggressive on big points, the second serve getting beefed up and the forehand getting more of a thump.

'It's a long process,' said the Czech. 'You start by identifying the things you work on, then becoming able to do them in practice, then in matches, then in big matches under pressure. That's the final step.'

To reach that end Lendl, a millionaire many times over, will go back on the road around the clay courts of Europe with Murray next month before returning home and then going back for the French Open.

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Respect: Murray celebrates match point against Janko Tipsarevic (left)

Not unexpectedly, the man who invented serious hard work in tennis has strong views about preparation and training, the nub of which is that it is best done outdoors whenever possible, hence the Scot spending more time in Florida with him.

'The best preparation is here in Miami where you do five blocks of 40 minutes on court and it's so hot that it's hard to get through even half an hour.

'It's that which is going to give you the best chance at the US Open, not waiting around in a cool climate hoping it isn't going to rain.'

Nadal was slightly nervy in beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 5-7 6-4, in a quarter-final marred by the Frenchman's accusations of preferential treatment by the chair umpire.

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Holding his nerve and his serve: Rafael Nadal (left) looked on edge against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (right)

Tsonga claimed borderline calls by Damian Steiner went against him and added: 'If Rafa doesn't like him any more, he would not be in the chair many times in semi-finals and finals.'

The Spaniard, however, made a habit of beating Murray in big semi-finals last year, although in October's Japan Open final, the British No 1 cuffed him 6-0 in a deciding set.

But all that was before Lendl.

Maria Sharapova beat Caroline Wozniacki 4-6 6-2 6-4 to reach the women's final.