Murray's copycat tactics: Scot hopes to take the Lendl road to major glory
Andy Murray admits new coach Ivan Lendl is something of a storyteller.
And, after a week in his company in
Australia, where Murray is seeking to win his first Grand Slam title,
Lendl must have recounted the story of when he made his own major
It is a tale that will embolden Murray for what lies ahead in his partnership with the Czech-American.
Similarities: And Andy Murray will hope his career ends like coach Ivan Lendl's (right)
For Lendl had already accumulated a fortune – as Murray has – when John McEnroe looked poised to inflict further misery on him at his fourth attempt to win a Grand Slam final, at the French Open.
Those of us privileged to be in Paris in the summer of 1984 to watch McEnroe, playing aggressively on a slow clay court, saw Lendl fall behind 2-1 on sets and 4-2 in the fourth.
But Lendl, a forbidding force on a tennis court, staged an incredible recovery.
McEnroe's temper flared, and the crowd roared Lendl to an improbable triumph.
Been there, done that: Lendl ended up winning 8 grand slam tournaments
Lendl said with a smile afterwards: 'Maybe now people will ask me questions other than when I am going to win my first big title.'
After losing three major finals, two of them in Australia, Murray wants nothing more than to make a similar statement to the assembled media in Melbourne a fortnight today.
Murray believes his appointment of Lendl, hardly seen on the tennis circuit since he retired in 1994, has enhanced his prospects of fulfilling a lifetime ambition.
'I enjoy being around Ivan,' he said yesterday. 'He's good fun, with a good sense of humour. As you probably expect, he has a lot of great stories to tell. Yet he doesn't hang around all the time. When we get the work done, he leaves, does his own thing. We've got on well so far.'
Murray, James Ward , Elena Baltacha, Heather Watson, Ann Keovathong and Laura Robson provide the greatest complement of British players at a Grand Slam tournament outside of Wimbledon since the 1992 Australian Open, so the world No 4 will not be the sole focus of attention.
Main hope: Andy Murray is one of six Brits playing in Australia
Yet Murray, who meets American teenager Ryan Harrison in the first round on Tuesday, remains central to the British narrative on the other side of the world.
After appearing in the semi-finals of all four majors last year, he is established as the primary threat to the reigning nobility of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Yet Murray is not alone with questions to answer: Can Djokovic, winner of three majors last year, be as formidable again Is Nadal's body capable of sustaining his form across nine months Can Federer, 31 this summer, add to his 16 major titles
Lendl likes the possibilities opening up for Murray. 'I see a guy who wants to win and work hard,' he said. 'Obviously, I see the parallels between his career and mine, and I want his to end like mine.'
No djoke: But Novak Djokovic has some questions to answer
Lendl's final tally of eight majors, set alongside 94 titles in all, led him into Murray's sights once he realised his part-time coach, Darren Cahill would not join him on a permanent basis.
'Darren wasn't around enough at the Grand Slams,' said Murray. 'So I chatted with him about a few names, and Ivan was one of them. After speaking with him and spending a day on court together, it was obvious he was the guy I wanted.'
Lendl, 51, has blended comfortably with those closest to Murray.
'I think Ivan will give the team an extra bit of leadership,' said Murray.
Murray hopes Lendl will lead him away from that question: 'When are you going to win a major, Andy'
Stars could strike over prize money
Tennis stars voted to demand a greater share of the prize-money at Grand Slams with strike action a possibility at the French Open in May.
Britain's Andy Murray warned at the US Open last September that leading players felt they deserved a larger share of the huge profits generated by Wimbledon and the Australian, French and US Opens.
Chief executive of the players union, Brad Drewitt, wants the Grand Slam Committee to treat their claims with respect or they may strike in Paris.