Lendl just champion for Murray, insists Roche as world No 4 awaits Australian Open draw
In a near-deserted corner of Melbourne Park, Andy Murray’s practice session crackled with intensity under the watchful eye of Ivan Lendl, with the British No 1 pounding winners past Argentinian sparring partner Juan Monaco.
As he did so, Tony Roche, who did for Lendl what the Czech now hopes to do for Murray, gave a ringing endorsement of the coaching appointment that has the tennis world abuzz.
Australian Davis Cup coach Roche, who turned the former world No 1 from Grand Slam final loser into a serial winner of big titles, described the new match-up as a ‘statement of great confidence’ in the abilities of the 24-year-old Scot.
A few pointers: Ivan Lendl dictates Andy Murray's training in Melbourne
Lendl had fallen short in his first four Grand Slam finals when Roche hooked up with him and that was converted into a career that bagged eight of the world’s biggest tournaments.
‘It’s obviously a similar situation to that which Andy finds himself in,’ said Roche. ‘Ivan knows what it takes to turn it round and win on the big occasions.
‘He was very strong on studying the opposition and working out their strengths and weaknesses. He was so professional about that and this is what he will bring to the table.’
Watching brief: Lendl has his eye on Murray
Murray is set to discover who he will be facing next week in the first round of the Australian Open.
‘It might be only about finding that extra percentage point in your performance and at this level that may be all it needs,’ said Roche, a left-hander in his playing days.
‘When I got together with Ivan the two guys giving him most trouble were John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. He wanted to know how lefties thought.
‘We ended up having eight great years. Andy should draw great strength from the fact Ivan wants to coach him. It’s a statement of great confidence in him.’
Murray has arrived off the back of winning the ATP event in Brisbane and is seeded fourth for a tournament where he has reached the final for the last two years.
Caroline Wozniacki, however, is facing a battle to be fit for the year’s first grand slam after being reduced to tears during a dramatic quarter-final defeat by Agnieszka Radwanska at the Sydney International.
Wozniacki has injured her left wrist and lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, which could signal the end of her reign as world No 1. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is set to take top spot.