Murray embarks on another Grand Slam quest with Lendl the legend in his corner and a challenge to tame the… WILD CHILD
He is his country’s great young hope, very talented and has a bit of a temper on him.
No wonder 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison can understand the comparisons between himself and a younger Andy Murray.
The two men face off in the first round of the Australian Open and it represents an intriguing test for Murray as he attempts to get his Grand Slam partnership with Ivan Lendl off to a winning start.
Dream team: Murray and Lendl prepare for the Scot's first-round match
Before that a quintet of British singles players were intent on ensuring that, if he does so, it is not as the country’s sole representative left in the tournament.
While the 24-year-old Scot waits for day two, James Ward, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson were all due to feature in the opening wave of matches.
Having had a full week of work with Lendl, all eyes at Melbourne Park will be on Murray to see if the eight-time Grand Slam winner has been able to effect any changes on the world No 4’s style.
Court time: Murray prepares for his first round clash
The indications are that we may see Murray slightly more aggressive than usual against a potentially awkward opponent who is one of a group of younger players gradually emerging with the threat that they can one day upset the established world order. With Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters approaching the twilight zone,
Harrison carries the considerable burden of being America’s best prospect.
The son of the head coach at John Newcombe’s tennis ‘ranch’ in Texas, he has long been marked out for the role.
Harrison is about to start his second full year on the ATP Tour and his world ranking of 84 shows that he is not the finished article but, should Murray exhibit some early tournament nerves, then he is already good enough to cause problems.
On the front foot: Murray is looking to get off to a good start to 2012 by winning his first major
At the US Open in September the teenager led world No 5 David Ferrer by two sets to one, but he has often struggled to keep his emotions in check and it has acted to his detriment.
Few players appear as regularly on the fines list for racket abuse and at Roland Garros last year he added a new dimension to the practice by hurling his implement into a nearby tree.
Nobody is as good at driving their opponents to distraction as Murray with his constant changes of spin, pace and angles, so it might be a lively encounter and the British No 1 feels that could be to his advantage. ‘I’ll try and make him lose his temper early on,’
Murray said. ‘It’s something that helps if your opponent gets down on himself, and if that happens then you’ve got to keep your foot on the gas.
‘It’s important I get off to a good start. He’s obviously a good player, got a good serve and forehand, but he can be a little erratic. He plays a similar style to Roddick.’
The rivals: Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal stand in the way of Murray winning his first Grand Slam
Harrison, impressively articulate, explained himself thus: ‘I’m a very energetic person, I’ve had moments in the past when it has got out of hand, so one of the big challenges for me this year is to learn how to channel it all as positively as possible. But I will never be a guy who just walks from side to side and doesn’t say anything.’
Murray is used to arriving at this tournament with much attention focused on him, but the interest has been taken to a new level by the arrival of Lendl in his team, and there is the possibility that there will be a distracting and pressure-adding element to it.
As he pointed out, it is him playing the tournament and it will be him winning or losing rather than the coach, but the extra scrutiny is inevitable.
At least he is not the overwhelming favourite, which the bookies have agreed is defending champion Novak Djokovic, despite the fact that he has played no tennis of serious note since the World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London at the end of November.
The challenger: Ryan Harrison will look to upset Murray in the opening round
Djokovic also waits until day two before entering the fray and could face a nasty third-round clash against highly-rated and huge-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
His chief rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, like the five other Britons, were due in action on Monday. Amazingly — and it is a tribute to their dominance of rankings one and two — Federer and Nadal have not been in the same half of a Grand Slam draw since 2005.
THE NOT-SO-TINY TEMPER TANTRUMS OF RYAN HARRISON
Ryan Harrison used to receive 20 push-ups from his parents as punishment for his displays of anger. Now he receives regular fines for his conduct. Here are some of the American’s flashpoints from last year.
Repeatedly hurled his racket during his US Open first-round defeat by Marin Cilic. He also kicked a ball into the crowd, prompting boos, as he lost to the Croat in straight sets.A week before the Flushing Meadows event, he threw his racket three times in six games against Canadian Pierre Duclos in the Winston-Salem Open. After his serve was broken for a second time, he chucked his racket over a fence and into a car park.Raged at an umpire during his World Tennis Challenge match against Frenchman Michael Llodra in Adelaide. ‘Are you kidding me You are not even paying attention. The ball is three inches long.’