In Search Of First Grand Slam, Andy Murray Hires Ivan Lendl As Fulltime Coach
by Staff | December 31st, 2011, 10:45 am

Andy Murray announced today that he has hired former tennis great Ivan Lendl as his coach going forward.

According to Murray’s website, Lendl will serve as Murray’s fulltime coach effective “immediately”.

“It was important to me that any new person joining my team was able to add fresh insight,” Murray said. “Ivan’s impact on the game is unquestionable and he brings experience and knowledge that few others have, particularly in major tournaments. I look forward to working with him going forward.”

Considered among the legends in tennis, Lendl won eight grand slams titles in 19 major finals and spent 270 weeks at No. 1. But he has never served as a full-time coach. He offered to coach Murray early in the year and on the eve of the New Year the two have reached an agreement.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with Andy,” said the 51-year-old Lendl. “He is a unique talent talent and I look forward to trying to help him reach his goals.”

It will be interesting to see how the disciplined Lendl mentors the video game-loving Murray.

Murray’s already had a long list of past coaches including Mark Petchey, Brad Gilbert, Miles Maclagan and Alex Corretja.

The 24-year-old Murray has reached three Slam finals but has still failed to win a single set, a fact shared similarly by Lendl who began his Slam run losing his first four finals. Murray opens his 2012 campaign this weekend in Brisbane. He plays Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Poll added

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106 Comments for In Search Of First Grand Slam, Andy Murray Hires Ivan Lendl As Fulltime Coach

Kimmi Says:

ah, great news. hope their partnership is a great success. go muzza!

Brando Says:

Was going to post about this- tennis-x got in there 1st, lol! Could this be andy’s mental click like nole’s a year ago? Possibly, good choice anyhow. One thing is for certain: andy’s days as a LEGEND on the football manager circuit are truly over :-)

Humble Rafa Says:

What Andy needs is a new brain. Ivan Lendl can be disciplinarian, good coach. But he can’t change the fact that Mr. Lady Forehand is a choker.

DC Says:

Can’t call Murray a choler – apart from losing to a red hot Nole in 2011 (who defeated Humbill rafa 6 times this year), hes lost only twice to the goat in slam finals- which is quite normal and is expected to happen to any great player

Grad Slam Says:

This is great news!!!!! Lendl is a great choice with a lot of experience and discipline especially when it comes to grand slams!!!!!! This may actually do the trick for Murray in 2012 and win his first GS!!!!!

mrmilbury Says:

Wow. This sounds very interesting. Andy Murray is not a player that I could define nice, friendly or kind. Nor It was Lendl.
But Lendl was able to convert his hard-made behaviour in something special becoming one of the greatest.
So, Murray is really talented he need only to become more angry and Lendl is able to do it.

jane Says:

Great news for Andy M. I think Lendl might be a good fit!! Interesting choice.

margot Says:

Not ecstatic, but Lendl was in 4 slam finals b4 he won and has got steel to spare in his veins; so hopefully he can give Andy an injection or two when it really matters.
Can’t believe he’s there to coach, he has no experience. He must be there solely for the mental side.
Love the timing of this though! Very positive.
Hi jane :)

jane Says:

margot, I agree the timing seems good. It suggests Murray’s willingness to change maybe? Turn over new leaf in the calendar and on court? I hope it is the mental aspect that is the focus, and maybe the serve. I don’t know. But hoping for the best anyhow. P.s. …am also a cautious Cancerian. :)

jamie Says:

Murray will win either Wimbledon or the USO in 2012.

You heard it here first.

dari Says:

Whoa! Big news before the new year!
I wish Murray and Ivan the best of success!!!!

carlo Says:

He can’t hurt can he (Lendl)?

Please, please, dear Ivan, help Andy win a GS.

El Flaco Says:

Lendl needs to teach Murray that killer instinct on the tennis court.

jane Says:

Wow, El Flaco: was that Lendl and Steffi? Great clip.

Colin Says:

This is very interesting, and does suggest Andy is making a serious effort to make further progress. I would agree it’s most likely the mental side is where he will focus.
Top coaches have not usually been great former players, have they? Usually they are good second tier performers or doubles experts. As someone said on an Australian site, not having been blessed with genius themselves, they had to learn the game thoroughly.
Truth is, we won’t know how this will go until late in the year. But I’m hopeful!

carlo Says:

Oh god! Talk about hurt, El Flaco. Lendl went right for him, poor guy.

Go Andy!

grendel Says:

And how about Lendl and Steffi pissing themselves laughing. Yes, Lendl was known to do that sort of thing. I recall Monfils playing Nadal once, and he could have drilled the ball straight at him but instead he tried something fancy and lost the point. Jason Goodall commented that “Nadal should be in hospital by now”.

Yes, if Lendl can inject some of that spirit into Murray….I’m with El Flaco on this one.

carlo Says:

I voted “yes”

And Humble Rafa will revise Murray’s nickname to Mr. Killer Forehand or Machohando – something like that.

Humble Rafa Says:

hes lost only twice to the goat in slam finals- which is quite normal and is expected to happen to any great player

May I remind you that Mr. Lady Forehand has a winning record against the supposed GOAT. Winning everywhere except where it matter. Otherwise known as choking.

Humble Rafa Says:

Please, please, dear Ivan, help Andy win a GS.

Ivan Lendl has 5 daughters, all of whom, were trained to be golf stars. He has said there wasn’t much money tennis and your career is short. Whereas in golf, you can mint money all your life.

I am sure Mr. Lady Forehand and the LTA are paying through their nose for Lendl. He doesn’t come cheap and he shouldn’t given his accomplishments.

If you believe that Andy hasn’t won a slam because he had bad coaches, you can dream that Ivan will bring a GS. Your Humble Highness is a non-believer in chokers in men’s tennis (though Jana Novotna among others is living proof that you can do it on the women’s side).

steve-o Says:

I don’t think a coach can really help Murray. The mental toughness is something that he must find from within.

From what I understand, Lendl was perhaps not the most varied player but he really made the most of what he had. Murray has a different problem, he has too much variety and sometimes it confuses him.

Did Lendl himself have a coach, BTW? I think he came from the days when having a full-time coach was a novelty.

S Green (i am it) Says:

IMO this is a huge move, primarily because Murray’s long needed someone to “coach” him. Actually I always hoped for a Murray-Lendl team. Lendl is the last resort, though. There won’t be another coach to fix his problems: That’s how Murray should feel.

mat4 Says:


“Yes, if Lendl can inject some of that spirit into Murray….I’m with El Flaco on this one.”

I am not. First, because I think that Murray already has that kind of spirit. He has already dropshotted an injured opponent to death, and he is quite ruthless on the court. He already has a killer instinct.

Can Lendl improve his “confidence”? If he can improve his forehand and Murray manage to win two or three high profile matches, who knows. But confidence comes with winning, not the other way around.

Then, Lendl is a Czech born American, Murray is a Scot. There could be huge differences of temperament, personnality, and I am not certain they can find a common language.

Last, but not least: Lendl is out of tennis for years. He has never coached anybody. The pair will have immensely talented players with coaches that understand them, work with them for years, coaches with great results in their careers.

Murray’s problem is that he is intelligent, but not enough to understand his own limits. He needs somebody with authority, so he chose Lendl. But can anybody have enough authority for Murray to listen to him?

Murray approach is too limited. He can see he needs more muscles, better stamina, try Djoko’s diet, speak of confidence, but he can’t grasp something elementary that everybody around him is repeating: you can’t be a number 1 without a dominating forehand. The truth is that he is ready to make cosmetical changes, but doesn’t want to really change anything. Not his approach to the game.

I believe that the story of “confidence” is just this, a story. Djokovic first improved his serve and his forehand, won a few key matches, then spoke of “confidence”.

jamie Says:

I voted “yes”

jane Says:

Happy New Year (on this thread too) – cheers!

mat4 Says:

Happy new year, jane.

grendel Says:


“The truth is that he is ready to make cosmetical changes, but doesn’t want to really change anything. Not his approach to the game.”

Yes, you’ve put it well. That’s the whole point of Lendl. Murray MAY listen to him. I realise that it’s one thing to say you’re going to listen to someone – that’s the consoling daydream – quite another to actually do it. Going against the grain is difficult for anyone, how much more so for someone with Murray’s gifts and special brand of stubborness.

You’ve stated the disadvantages of Lendl, but omitted to mention his chief advantages – freshness (that’s huge, I suspect), great intelligence (crucial if you’re going to understand Murray and gain his respect) and the natural authority of someone who has done precisely what Murray wants to do – and done it, too, from a position of disadvantage.

“confidence comes with winning, not the other way around.” This is the MMT line, and must be respected. Personally, I don’t think it is quite sequential like that, either in tennis or in life. I really do believe it is more complicated, and that there is nothing automatic about it.

Humble Rafa Says:

Lendl and Murray are both not outgoing characters. They both always look like they are always sad to hear the world will end one day. So, they may actually get along. Wierd.

Wog boy Says:

I remember Jim Courier, during one of AO , as commentators talking about Lendl said something like this ” He( Lendl) didn’t make to many friends abd he wasn’t mine, but he is tennis legend. He (Lendl) use to aim at ours body when ever we were going on the net and we didn’t like it, what is worse he use to tell them , back in dressing room, exactly how many times he hit the with a ball:-)”
Andy needed change, lets hope this is right one, let go Andy.
BTW Lendl was coached by his parents, before he moved to USA. They were realy good players, particulary his mother.

Wog boy Says:

Sorry for spelling mistakes, it was big night and is hot today, not good after big night:-)

carlo Says:

Humble Rafa=

No, I don’t believe Andy’s lack of a GS is due to bad coaches. I just was praying to a tennis god for him to win a GS and replaced “god” with “Ivan”

But I respectfully disagree that Andy is a “choker” label. Maybe in 1 out of 3 GS finals, I can see where he choked. But in general, I can think of some real chokers and a guy with as many titles and as consistently highly ranked as Murray isn’t one of them.

And his forehand isn’t WTA imo, but your nickname for him is amusing. I think he does have what it takes to win a GS and will win – eventually – and Lendl just might help. Was Andy’s forehand more powerful a couple years ago? Anyway, it looks good to me:

carlo Says:

His forehand in the video at 1:06, 07 looks super – from 2008 US Open.

mat4 Says:


Yes, you have made some valid points.

About confidence: you are right here too, but the check of reality is the bottom line. Djokovic spoke a lot about confidence, but he had that five setter against Roger at the USO as a foundation. Then, watching him against Ferrer hit monstrous forehands one after the other, I couldn’t not to think that it is easy to be confident when you know you have the weapons.

On the other side, to be in the top in any sport demands an insane level of self-belief and denial. I remember Murray’s interview after Rome, when he stated he was good at closing matches, or Roger fighting his demon and the journalist in every press conference. They have a true faith in themselves most of the time.

Don’t also forget that English is a foreign language to me, and that it is quite difficult to express complex and nuanced opinion.

About Lendl: yes, he is intelligent. Matter of fact: he changed tennis more than any other player in the open era. Perhaps he will be able to change the Murray dynamic, especially since himself has always searched for tennis solutions to psychological problems.

I always thought that Lendl was – and remained – the ultimate chocker. To win, he didn’t improve his state of mind – I felt he remained fragile on the court – but he improved his tennis. He lost 11 slam finals, and lost almost every time it was tense. But he elevated his game to be so dominant that it was rarely tense. He always searched for solutions on the court: how to beat Connors (though Ash had discovered it long before), how to win against McEnroe, how to play on grass.

It’s the job he will probably try to do with Murray. But I don’t believe Andy is ready to listen, although he has shown, in glimpses, what he could do with more determination and aggressiveness on a tennis court. (As a Djoko fan, I am scared to death.) His strength, unreal athleticism, sublime touch, would find a better framework.

mat4 Says:

… demons… journalists…

skeezerweezer Says:

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my tennis cyber buds, may all your favs come in first place………….after mine :)

mat4 Says:

@Grendel, Skeezer:

Just a bit more. Is there a limit to improvements? Will AM be able to change his game, his forehand? Will Djokovic be able to hit deep volleys, and Rafa to hit flat from both sides?

All the players I watched over the last 35 years had their limits. They improved one shot, maybe two or three, but they all remained close to what they were from the beginning. Lendl never became a net rusher, McEnroe never learned to play from the baseline. The closest to the ideal balance were Wilander and Becker. But Becker – the true prototype of Roger Federer – was too lazy and broke to early.

Could it be that Murray, at 25, is already a lost cause?

mat4 Says:

Happy new year, Skeezer. May we have the same fav!

Wog boy Says:

Mat, sorry for asking, what is you first language. You don’t have to tell me:)


Thanks, same to you :-)

mat4 Says:

Happy new year, Wog boy.

It is French. But I am an European hybrid, far away from home.

Wog boy Says:

Thanks, that makes two of us…..far away from home :)

Happy new year to you to, we finished this morning, now I am on Panadols, but getting better…. I will be right to continue tonight with more food and whatever come with food:-)


steve-o Says:

Happy new year, all!

laslo Says:

Lendl spent the first 15 years of his retirement mentioning in every interview, “Thank God I don’t have to fly anymore, I hated it so much.” He hated everything about travelling. Now he’s going to be following Andy around most of the year?
What is this guy’s motivation? He just opened a new tennis academy in Florida and needs an infusion of LTA money.

mat4 Says:

An excellent article on this particular topic:

margot Says:

Andy doesn’t need to change his game. He needs to change his head. Hopefully the morose Mr Lendl can help him do it. I actually think they are much better suited temperamentally than excitable Americans. Hopefully Andy is ready to listen to any advice on not to go to pieces in Slam finals when you are winning and one forehand goes out! I believe its called self-belief.
grendel: mildly amusing, surely? Yes, “Jar City” is a bleak, bleak film. I see Nesbo is doing rather well in fiction top 100 charts.

S Green Says:

Granted he does not need to make a drastic change to his techniques per say, Murray should consider:

1) Experimenting with a more stoic approach to his game and if that does not quite work, he should try being flamboyant.

2) Cultivating a demeanor to be not stuck with bad moments (maybe Lendl will have to assist him in circumventing his yelling at the box or self-abuse when frustrated and in channeling negative energies into positive).

3) On top of perfecting in the area of shot selection, planning strategies and sticking with their execution, rather than quickly falling prey to spur-of-the-moment improvisation unless absolutely required by emergent situations.

4) Limiting Judy’s role and presence.

5) Leaving the option open of tweaking some minor changes (a success-oriented player cannot be too rigid).

Since we are talking about making changes, Nadal, in his interview with Gulf News, revealed this, “I feel that my balls sometimes hit easy winners with this heavier racquet. But at the same time I am losing a bit of control.

“I sometimes did not have 100 per cent control of the racquet and sometimes the racquet had control of my hand. I needed a month to practise with this but I only had seven days, so it will take a bit longer.”

Has this revelation been discussed on this forum? Will Nadal go through Djokovic-like moments when the Serb changed his racket or is this a lesser kind of change that does not require as much time to yield the desired result? Any thoughts?

Michael Says:

There is no doubt that Lendl is a great player. But can he be a good Coach ? Even Lendl found it quite difficult to win Majors in his career and he had a weak temperament in big matches. I can recall his match against Michael Chang in the French where he lost a match when Chang was suffering from severe cramps and struggling in the Court and he won a match by serving underarm when Lendl was leading by two sets to one. If this is the attitude of Lendl in his playing days, I am not sure as to how far he will be useful for Murray who is also suffering from lack of confidence in big matches. Nevertheless, Murray is the best judge and he has taken the call which must be respected. Hope this combination brings good luck for Murray.

Skorocel Says:

mat4: “Murray approach is too limited. He can see he needs more muscles, better stamina, try Djoko’s diet, speak of confidence, but he can’t grasp something elementary that everybody around him is repeating: you can’t be a number 1 without a dominating forehand.”

That’s true. Especially in today’s “baseline-only” tennis…

margot Says:

Andy has the record for the fastest forehand. And his forehand was perfectly alright till Corretja started messing with it.
S Green aka i am it, nice to see you and Happy New Year to you and all civilised posters on tennisx :)

margot Says:

PS re your question about Rafa and a heavier racquet, as he is reportedly still suffering shoulder problems, this doesn’t make sense to me. Am I missing something?

Brando Says:

Happy new year to all the posters here:-)

Brando Says:

@margot: hi there margot, hope your enjoying the festive season. Re rafa: I think he decided to make the change prior to the off season as he felt it might help him get winners alot more easier than before. The injury happened after he made the decision to change I think. Anyway, I don’t think the injury could be too serious since if it was, how on earth would he still be on court competing against the world no 3? It could be a continuing niggle that bothers rafa, nothing of a serious nature. I hope.

skeezerweezer Says:

Well Rafa cannot change his style of game so tweakin around with other things (aka Raqcuet) makes sense for him, me guess?

Imo he just needs to find a way to fix the shoulder issue AND get that monster serve back he had st ’10 USO. He also was showing some vunerability in his BH, but don’t know if that is a raqcuet ussue or more movement and confidence. He should be careful what he is messin with though his game could get worse not better by that. Look he didn’t have that bad of a season overall, was in most finals and won a slam.

Brando Says:

@skeez: HANDS DOWN your my fav fed fan here! Since even though your a massive fed fan, your still able to be fair to rafa and in your opinions regarding him, which other fed fans find it hard to do. I don’t blame them, it’s completely understandable even. BUT YOURS are the least biased views re rafa I feel. Keep the good work up. As for your post, I agree. Rafa can’t make massive changes since he’ll lose what made him in the 1st place, what he needs to do is get back what he had before: the serve (USO), the confidence and self belief back.

El Flaco Says:

Here is an old article from New York Magazine in 1989 on Lendl

excerpt to wet the palate:

The struggle with his mother continued at home. She insisted that he eat vegetables, and he refused. She would put a timer on the table, set it at ten minutes, and leave the room. “She’d say to me, ‘If you don’t eat, I’m going to call the zoo, and the elephant is going to come and get you.’ I was scared of the elephant. So I always tried to push her as far as I could, but then when it was a minute to go, I would just swallow everything.”

If the pressure on Lendl was intense, it was partly because he was the only child. “It is good because you get a lot of attention, and it is bad because you get too much attention,” he says. “At times, I wished there might have been another kid. But maybe I would have changed my mind then. There would be too much attention for a baby, and I would be jealous.”

Even now, Lendl speaks to his parents, who still live in Czechoslovakia, nearly every day. When he was playing the exhibition in Atlanta not long ago, he failed to call home one evening after a match. The next day, when he called, his mother was upset. “She wants to know every day what happens. I said to her, ‘Mom, it was four o’clock in the morning for you when my match ended. And it was an exhibition.’ She said, ‘I don’t care. I needed to know. I couldn’t sleep.'” Several times a year, for the major tournaments, Lendl’s parents come to watch, and stay with him. But even now, he resists looking toward them during a match, reluctant to catch a disapproving look on his mother’s face.

Still, he has come to view his mother more sympathetically as he’s gotten older. “She was always very critical because she wanted me to do better,” Lendl says now. “That’s why I do as well as I do in tennis–because I will never be pleased. I’ll always want to do it better. If I go to school and get an A, I shouldn’t be complimented, because that’s my job. If I get an F, I should be in trouble.”

Between school and tennis, leisure was rare for the young Lendl. “There was always something to do, and I had to plan carefully,” he says. “My mom always had me do certain things. You come home from school and change your clothes, you put your shirt and pants into the closet–you don’t just throw it on the chair. You finish your lunch and dry the dishes. The garbage is full, you go and empty it. If I was disorganized, I wouldn’t have had enough time in the day. If I had two and a half hours of homework, I would say to myself, ‘ Okay, I’ll do an hour after school, and that leaves me one and a half for the evening.’ And I’d come back from the courts at eight, start working at 8:30, and I’d be done at ten and go to bed. Just like that.”

And what of time, say, to hang out and chase girls?

“No, not at all. But it didn’t bother me.”

At fourteen, Lendl beat his mother for the first time. He remembers every detail of the day, including the fact that she was very upset when it was over. “I was so proud that I couldn’t fit through the door,” he says, grinning even now. By the age of fifteen, he was playing tournaments in the United States. Special arrangements were made for him to miss classes. He was smart and focused enough to earn A’s and B’s simply by studying on his own and returning only for exams. Today, he speaks four languages and understands two others. Math was his favorite subject; he has always been attracted by the logic of numbers. History was his least favorite subject.

“I hated it,” he says, “because what they feed you is not right, so why bother with it?” Lendl was eight years old when the Russian tanks rolled into Prague. As he grew up, his logic made him question the Socialist system he was living under. Hard work was not rewarded, incentive was suffocated, advancement was impossible. Playing tennis in the West–seeing capitalism up close–only confirmed his belief.

Full story:

alison hodge Says:

happy new year to all the fare sensible posters on the tennis x forum,may you all get what you wish for in tennis terms,or away from tennis too for that matter.

alison hodge Says:

bando i will second that,but swiss maestros also great,and even roots for rafa in alot of finals,except for the ones where rafa faces roger obviously lol.

Brando Says:

@el flasco: thanks for the article, it’s a very good read.

Brando Says:

@Alison: I agree re swiss maestro, he’s a very good poster also.

grendel Says:

Two quite superb links on Lendl/Murray and on Lendl from mat4 (@3.37 a.m.) and from El Flaco.

This from mat4’s:”Murray potentially has power, but he doesn’t use it with any consistency. He may be concerned that what happened to del Potro could happen to him which is a wrist injury. He’s shown more interest in hitting with power, but he doesn’t spin the ball nearly as much as either Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer.

The thinking is that it’s not just mental, but that he needs to do something that hurts his opponents consistently. Against Rafa, Murray isn’t nearly so powerful and steady. It’s basically the same problem Federer has. Against Djokovic, Murray can at least expect flatter balls and keep somewhat more even. However, it’s still about outhitting Djokovic. Against Federer, it’s mostly keeping up with Federer and preventing him from dominating points. Murray has long opted for big serves leading to easy points, even as it means he must play bigger on second serves. Meanwhile, players like Nadal are happy serving 70% and letting their ground games do the work.” So it’s not just mental, it really is about strategy – and adapting technique to meet the strategy. I suppose you could argue that that is mental in the end.

From El Flaco’s riveting article, I am not surprised to learn that Lendl enjoys maths. Now as it happens, I gather Murray was a promising mathematician who gave it up to concentrate on tennis. Maybe a shared interest in maths will help to bond Murray and Lendl?

grendel Says:

Oh, stunned by the above links, I forgot to post this – interesting to get Tony Roche’s take on Lendl:

carlo Says:

Interesting read. And that article, El Flaco gives reasons to believe Lendl really may help. The man has been through it all. He also has a unique sense of humor.

I liked this bit:

“Another exercise was called witnessing-a technique for coping with a negative emotion or an anxiety-provoking situation. As Lendl drove to an autographing session at a cocktail party one evening, he described how it worked. “I try to get outside of my mind and simply observe what Ivan is doing. So right now, I say to myself, ‘Ivan has just made a left turn. He’s driving into the club; he’s looking at the BMW ahead, which has brake lights on. Now he’s putting his foot on his brake, because he sees a policeman who is going to check to ask where is going. He is not looking forward to this cocktail party at all, but he is going to try to make the best out of it. Now the policeman is waving him on, and he is parking his car.'”

Reminds me of Nadal’s talking in 3rd person. Diet makeovers, 3rd person mood altering techniques – Lendl is a wealth of experience and information. Lucky Andy – this could be good.

racquet Says:

I must admit I was unsure about the new hire but now, having read the excellent article that El Flaco linked, I’m very encouraged. And it seems that they’re not so dissimilar after all (except only one is naturally gifted). The section describing Lendl’s work with the psychologist to improve mental strength was particularly illuminating. I think that experience is going to be key rather than any technical work.

Tony Roche’s take is also encouraging.

Suddenly 2012 is looking even more interesting.

alison hodge Says:

i agree i think its all looking very good for murray this year,someone like lendel to help him find that little bit extra,that final piece of the jigsaw puzzle thats missing,i think he stands a good chance of making the final at the ao,although djokovic looks like the man to beat there,but you never know he could make it 3rd time lucky hopefully,what im really looking forward to,is to see how he progresses up to wimbledon,im feeling this could be his year,loving that particular prediction from jamies pyschic.

grendel Says:

A nice bit of symmetry. Fibak-Lendl – Lendl-Murray. i.e.Fibak, the talented touch player, coaches Lendl the mechanist (“If I don’t play for two weeks, I can’t hit a topspin. I just lose the timing, I can’t move on court; I lose everything” and Lendl coaches Murray the talented touch player.

Of Fibak, Lendl comments (these quotes are from El Flaco):”Fibak helped me tremendously, to make the transition to this country, to get me very quickly to No. 2 or 3 in the world…but then I needed to go further. He felt that I should work more on the court. I was 24, and I thought I needed to work more off the court, running and bicycling and lifting weights. Fibak himself was a good player, but he could have been tremendous. He was just physically too weak. He lost many matches because he just got tired. He just didn’t have the force behind him, or in him, to go and work until it hurts. He couldn’t help me to take the next step because he had a different philosophy than I did–and because he hadn’t been there himself.”

Intriguing on so many counts. For instance, if Fibak had possessed a quite different outlook, could he have become an all time great? Probably there are a lot of missing champions like that….

Humble Rafa Says:

Happy New Year, everyone.

Congratulations to Kimberly. Some happy news in Miami. King Lebron James got engaged over the new year weekend.

Two things come to mind.

1) For the first time in his life, Lebron had a good fourth quarter

2) Someone now has a ring in the Lebron household.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

mat4 Says:

I remember Fibak as an elegant and versatile player, but it was long time ago.

I don’t think it will last. I spoke with a coach about Maclagan. His opinion was that Maclagan was an excellent coach, that he had the knowledge to bring Murray to the top, and he didn’t understand what got wrong in his relationship with Murray.

Then, Murray was coached also by Gilbert, Corretja. He didn’t lack good coaching.

Will Murray stick to Lendl after the first big loss? That is the whole question.

mat4 Says:


I propose you to make a little search in the atp news archives. You will find a lot of article about the way Murray wins, Federer or Rafa win, good analyses of their respective games, etc.

BTW, the author, Charles Lin, is a huge Murray fan.

I will post some links to old articles in enjoyed.

Ajet Says:

It’s ridiculous to see how federer keeps losing to nadal, sad, sad! :(
It looks lik fed stands a chance against nadal only on slow surfaces now, he can’t handle the electrifying play of nadal or djokovic anymore on ultra fast surface. It’s quite distutbing to see him not win a single match against nadal on a HC since 2005. Just 1 win some ages back in epic 2005 miami final, and that was it. Beating Nadal on indoor courts is no big deal(although a fed fan like me shouldn’t mind wherever that odd win federer gets over him!). God. Nadal is walloping him on all kinds of HCs. Sick!

Kimberly Says:

Humble Rafa—the ring comment won’t last for very long. I called Jamie’s psychic and she said the Heat are going to win it for sure this year. Take it to the bank!

Happy New Year everyone, busy watching football and basketball simultaneously. Can’t wait to add Australian Open to the mix!

racquet Says:

mat4: Will Murray stick to Lendl after the first big loss?

You can’t seriously believe Murray would drop someone of Lendl’s caliber after one big loss?

Anyway here’s your answer from today’s D Telegraph:

“What I don’t want to do is to appoint a guy and then realise halfway through the year that that’s not working and have to change it. At the age I’m at [24], and this stage of my career, I want someone that’s going to be there for the next four or five years, not just the next six months.”

also found this interesting:

“He is one of the most successful players ever [and] a very honest guy as well,” Murray said yesterday, “which is very important because not everybody is like that. A lot of people are maybe too nice sometimes, they just don’t want to upset you or say the wrong thing, but he was very honest, very open and that was important.”

Maybe Maclagan was too nice? The rest of the article is here:

grendel Says:

good stuff, mat4. But I suppose a real tennis education can only come on the courts. It seems to me there are different levels of observation, and providing you report what you have seen, it must contain elements of truth. Of course, you can get things wrong, quite apart from missing stuff you don’t understand. But an intense experience is always worth conveying, I think, and every spectator who watches on a regular basis will have them.

I was interested in what your man Lin said about Djokovic coming to learn how to beat Federer, and comparing that with Borg getting to grips with Connors. I imagine this is an ongoing story, with maybe a few twists to come. It is true Federer looked all at sea against Djokovic at the AO, apart from those few games when he mixed it up a bit. But look how he came back at the French, pretty unexpected considering Djokovic’s form at the time. (Voicemail1, who no longer posts here, suggested here that Federer was itching to have a go at Djokovic).

carlo Says:

And Tony Roche is enthused:

Tony Roche, who coached Lendl for eight years, believes Murray has made an excellent choice. “Anyone who knows Ivan will tell you how much he’s going to bring to the table for Andy,” the veteran Australian player said yesterday. “Few people in our sport have ever trained as hard as Ivan or been as professional.”

It’s exciting news with AO so close. I have my spirits up about Murray’s chances.

grendel Says:

Two things strike me from Racquet’s Telegraph piece:1)”“The thing that annoys me is the perception that I haven’t been searching for a coach..People said, ‘This person would be great for Andy, or this ex-player,’ and I spoke to a few, and a lot of them didn’t want to do the 25 weeks.”

The inescapable implication is that Lendl was not first choice, given also that he contacted Murray 9 or so months ago. That is not fatal – but it is of interest. And then the “too nice” comment. It is encouraging that Murray should say and think that, but it remains to be seen if he can cope with the reality of someone bluntly telling him what’s what time and time again.

It may well be that he can – that, in short, he has grown up. I certainly hope so. Having poo-pooed the idea of coaches making much of a difference, I can’t help admitting that this partnership looks really rather exciting – and personally, I hope it proves productive.

mat4 Says:


I believe sometimes Lin tends to simplify a bit. Except for Murray. He writes often about him, and I noticed most of the changes in Murray’s game after reading those posts.

About Federer and Djokovic, or Rafa, you may look at Will Hamilton’s analysis.

He doesn’t mention Roger’s tactical adjustment about angled balls (Roger is careful not to allow sharps angled balls against Novak), but the rest is here. That’s what Roger has been doing most of the time against Novak: low slice, running crosscourt forehand, and good serving, of course.

mat4 Says:

The basic strategy looks simple, the details are complicated.

Wheeler Says:

When nothing works for Slams, change coaches. That has always been Murray’s “solution”.

Ajet Says:

I think Lendl is the right man. And I believe he’ll fix murray’s mind and help him get that elusive slam. And guess what, it would be fabulous!

Ajet Says:

Tennis journalists, experts and legends alike should concentrate more, from my point of view, on teaching Mr.Federer on how to beat Nadal more often than this on hardcourts, which Fed either has forgotten to do, or can’t do1 ;)

Wog boy Says:


You probably know that Tony Roche built a grass court near Sydney purpously for Lendl in order to get that elusive Wimbledon but to no avail.
I take his comments with reserve in the last couple of years, until yestrday he was telling us that Hewitt has one more slam in him, and similar things for some other players that he was involved with in the last couple of years. I think the ages are catching up with him or subjectivity or both.
By saying that I still think that this was a good move by Andy because of some other reasons and YES I think it is time for Judy to let HIM go. That should be her/his next step.

margot Says:

Apparently off court Lendl has a very dry sense of humour. Am convinced now that this is an excellent appointment and will work…..;)
Have read somewhere that Lendl did a bit of coaching with Sampras?
Also, re Lendl not being Andy’s first choice, I think Andy initially wanted someone to travel with him all the time, which proved impossible in the end.
Thanks for articles on Ivan, my word he sounds scary! Looking forward to what happens when Andy starts swearing at his box, will Ivan leap on court and give him a good thumping?????

Baily Says:


That would be kinda pointless. Fed knows the things he needs to do to beat nadal, the problem is just that his execution more often then not isn’t good enough. He makes simply way to many UE and doesn’t take his chances.

Colin Says:

Matt, you ask “Will Murray stick with Lendl after the first big loss?”
Why do you assume that big loss will occur before the first big win?
Regarding Federer, some people are slipping into the mistake of ignoring the passage of time. Whenever Roger produces a top notch performance (as he did in London), they think he’s back to what he was in his prime. He is not, and now he never will be. That’s not a dig at him, it’s just realism. I think a much more interesting question is “Can Nadal learn to beat Djokovic again?”

margot Says:

Colin: but this site is 100% pro-Federer, it’s where the people with rose tinted spectacles live.

madmax Says:

disagree Colin and it’s nothing to do with rose tintism. One could say that about Murray (the rose tintism) constantly being called as the next best thing and he is going to win a slam and yah yah, we heard it all before. Rose tintism. Always on sky sports and the BBC.

Federer has history. Of course it is the glorification of the history of the man and the constant rhetoric where he is concerned about being in decline. Like a car not starting in the mornings. It stops and starts over the last 3 years. Since 2008 in fact when it first started.

Fed’s ‘worst’ year and Murray’s best year in my view. I would say this because Murray beat Nadal in the USO SF. Have you ever seen a more determined Murray? I haven’t. He thrashed Rafa and he was brilliant, but you don’t ever hear anyone talking about the faults of other players so much as you do people here, talking about the faults of Federer.

You can count them in their hundreds. The guy gets no rest from it. There are as many haters here about Federer as there are who support him. It’s just more subtle, but it exists.

I hope that Murray is able to win a slam this year. He deserves to in my opinion. I may not like his on court manners but he’ll grow and he is growing and he works hard. It would be great for Murray to be taken more seriously as he is always included in the conversation with rafa, novak and roger, but Murray is not technically of the same ilk. Yet. I do think it will happen though.

And I for one colin, do believe that Federer is not far from his best. He was brilliant at the London Finals 5 weeks ago. I sat and watched him play. His movement was superb. It’s not a mistake of ignoring the passage of time. 3 years ago Murray was supposed to win his first slam. We are 3 years on from that, and since then Federer has won a further 3 slams and that’s a fact.

It doesn’t just affect Federer. The thing that is wonderful is that he is not suffering the same lack of passion for the game that rafa is reported to have said, fed just wants to keep working at his game and getting better.

So I think he will get to 18 slams and I will be exceedingly happy when he does and also when Murray wins his first.

Driving home a few nights ago, late, it was about 9pm, Colin Murray does a slot on radio 5 live but I can’t remember who he was talking to. Whoever this person was said Murray had 10 more chances (and no more) to win a slam.

What does he know?

It’s got to be the self-belief of the player. I think Rafa has alot of work to do on his psyche rather than his game. Murray needs that one break through in his head to literally ‘break through’ and Roger, just needs to work on the mental toughness of his game and I believe he has done that.

mat4 Says:


“Matt, you ask “Will Murray stick with Lendl after the first big loss?”
Why do you assume that big loss will occur before the first big win?”

I do not. With Maclagan he won his two first MS, started beating Djokovic and Nadal. But it wasn’t enough. I have the impression that for AM, the glass is always half empty.

There is no doubt that Murray is an intelligent player, with an excellent technical foundation and an exceptional physique. He has always benefited from the best coaches.

But others from the very top have displayed more will and more aptitude to evolve. Against Nadal and Djokovic, he is mainly losing that battle of will. Against Federer, it is also a tactical battle, and Roger wins it every time it really counts, adjusting his game and surprising Murray.

There is one thing that bothers me a bit: Murray worked two weeks with Djokovic before the AO. Djokovic adjusted his strategy (although Djokovic usually sticks to his own game), but Murray was clearly suprised in the final. Compare this with Federer who changed immediately his game plan in Indian Wells.

margot Says:

Nice interview with Ivan The Terrible.

racquet Says:

@ mat4

With Maclagan he also got to 2 GS finals but couldn’t pass the final step. And it was Maclagan who wanted out because he was unhappy with Corretja’s involvement. Talking of Corretja, he didn’t even show up in Oz last year when he reached his 3rd GS final. He wasn’t prepared to commit to more than 18 weeks a year. It’s not that complicated.

Ajet Says:

AGREE WITH YA! I’ve never seen a Murray playing better than he did at USO 08. However his performance in the final was awful(except may be the 2nd set, where he kept things close a little bit). And Federer took full chances against that Murray, being the opportunist champ that he is(wait! all great champs are opportunists too, e.g. Rafa at FO 11, Nole at AO 08 etc, endless list! they just wont let an easier chance go by without capitalising fully or at least as much as they can on it!). With reference to Murray, it is pertinent to note that he shoulda taken his chances against that vulnerable roger, he woulda been rewarded, but he didn’t and roger walked away with the laurels then. it was far more difficult for murray against a better playin roger of AUS 10 to overcome him! my point is, am not happy about the fact that he played MOST AMAZING against rafa in USO 08 semi only to fold meekly to roger! He shouldn’t have done that. If only Murray had shown a bit more heart, he woulda conquered Rafa and Roger on consecutive days(which delpotro showed how should be done a year later at the same venue. Rafa wasn’t at his best, Delpo thrashed him, Fed couldn’t serve very well in the final the next day, and that was enough for Delpo to grab his chance just like the other opportunists like djoko of AO 08 who made the most of fed not being at best and Rafa being taken out by Tsonga, to clinch the title! Rafa did similar thing at FO 11 as soon as Fed took out Nole at semi! You just need to take every chance you are offered at the highest level and at the grandest stage to turn the tide in your favour.

Murray should be able to do that now that he has a great champion as his coach and mentor! I for sure at least hope that Lendl shows the platform to Murray to start his assault at the top. With a pricelessly beautiful smooth backhand n such enormous talent, I just don’t want Murray to become another Nalbandian(who again imo is the biggest enigma!). I sure can’t understand how Nalby went slamless! Though Murray is less talented than Nalbandian(much less IMO), he still is an exceptional talent who must do justice to his potential by fixing his mind and to challenge at the top(unlike the mercurial safin or enigmatic nalbandian!).
IMHO nothing is as much a problem for Murray(not Delpo’s power game, not Roger’s variety and genius, not Rafa’s grit and quality nor Djokovic’s all-court playing style) as is Murray’s unstable mind and lacklustre attitude at crucial moments!). Once he gets over it, he will beat all the guys, he will compete with them with success, not only elsewhere, but even at the ultimate stage! Murray can become a champion once he controls his emotion, that I’m sure! He won’t be the next Roger, but he certainly can be at least Murray-The GS Champion! Let’s see…

Ajet Says:

And I honestly think, Murray, once he learns to control his negative emotions in the important matches, he would make up for his limitations like the lack of a huge forehand or reliable second serve! It’s not that only Murray has limitations, who has not!! But they cover it up well by their determination and hardwork and by adding new dimensions to their game, like Roger compensated for his relatively weaker BH, Rafa for his relatively vulnerable serve or Djoko for his compatrably lesser FH, even Delpo for his problematic huge physique! They all did it, why can’t Murray1 Nobody’s perfect! Murray must be mentally strong, that’s all!

carlo Says:

Wog boy-

Cheers. You caught me. I was only attempting to put up a Murray defense in any way possible, as usual.

Even if citing Roche is a weak defense, I’m still excited about Ivan the terrible coaching Andy.

Colin Says:

Matt, you may say you didn’t mean it, but it was what your question implied.
Madmax, you are, throughout, criticising Murray for not being Federer. But Fed is supposed to be the GOAT, isn’t he, so that is hardly fair.
No, whatever you may wish to believe, Roger is not what he was. The victory in London was excellent, but the other top players were all unfit, jaded, or absent. It wasn’t a top 5 player he beat in the final, was it?
To claim now that Federer is anywhere near what he was in his prime, is not flattering to him at all. In fact it DIMINISHES the greatness he had.

Ajet Says:

by the way, in the previous post I meant the movement of Delpotro owing to his huge physique, he overcame that to win a slam by being very focussed!

And by the way it won’t be fair to cite just djoko, rafa or delpo reapin benefits of their opponent’s inconsistency! Fed has made even more than all these guys, of his oppotunities, by winning USO 08 and FO 09, as Rafa was taken out in previous rounds here. I mean IMHO if Fed faced Rafa more in the non-clay slam finals prior to 08, I think he’d have taken down Rafa coz he had that aura around him, and he even moved much faster around the court, had quicker reflexes, his backhand was more stinging(though it appears just a tad more consistent now) had more stamina in 5 setters and even his game was at much higher level pre 08, so I don’t believe Fed can be said to taken the opportunity of Rafa’s absence in slams until 08; the fact was Fed was the favourite in non-clay matches then; but times changed since then, and Fed became vulnerable and Rafa became more consistent, both occuring simultaneously and roger lost the edge badly, now perhaps has completely even on outdoor hardcourts.

Murray can learn from these four rivals and also from Lendl and hopefully show it through results at the highest stage this year.

Ajet Says:

“No, whatever you may wish to believe, Roger is not what he was. The victory in London was excellent, but the other top players were all unfit, jaded, or absent. It wasn’t a top 5 player he beat in the final, was it?
To claim now that Federer is anywhere near what he was in his prime, is not flattering to him at all. In fact it DIMINISHES the greatness he had.”

Have to agree with Colin here VERY VERY MUCH.

Ajet Says:

I strongly believe that Roger would have certainly lost to Rafa if he had faced him at WIM 09. What to speak of rafa, roddick would be sitting with the trophy if he had been even slightly lucky during that gameturning tiebreak in the wimbledon final of 2009! So roger has been lucky in three slam victories post 2007. but he sure played as well as he can to create those opportunities for himself there, he wouldn’t win otherwise if he lost to delpo in the FO semi or to that russia guy in US 08. And look just how threatened rafa was during two or three rounds enroute his wimbleon win in 10, but he didn’t wink. So mental toughness and opportunism played their part in even fed and rafa’s career! Murray should take notice and accordingly set himself up for getting that elusive slam of his.

madmax Says:

Colin Says:
Madmax, you are, throughout, criticising Murray for not being Federer. But Fed is supposed to be the GOAT, isn’t he, so that is hardly fair.
January 2nd, 2012 at 11:59 am

Actually colin, I’m not. Where have I been criticising murray? I said in my opinion the best I have seen Murray play was in 2008 and it was. I have never seen a more aggressive Murray in my life.

And Federer is the GOAT, there’s no supposing about it.

You seem to be missing my point, but it doesn’t matter. I answered yours and do believe that Federer will win more slams. You don’t. There isn’t much more to say on the matter.

Ajet Says:
AGREE WITH YA! I’ve never seen a Murray playing better than he did at USO 08.


Yes, against Rafa. Murray was brilliant. His first GS final though did not surprise me against Roger. He was nervous, but then I think it was experience that showed with Roger because make no mistake, he was still under enormous pressure with the endless talk of his decline in 2008 and his ‘need’ to win another USO. The pressure must have been enormous on him. With Murray, he was playing well, just not well enough to win.

But it was his performance in the SF that I haven’t seen since from him.

madmax Says:

Ajet Says:
“No, whatever you may wish to believe, Roger is not what he was. The victory in London was excellent, but the other top players were all unfit, jaded, or absent. It wasn’t a top 5 player he beat in the final, was it?
To claim now that Federer is anywhere near what he was in his prime, is not flattering to him at all. In fact it DIMINISHES the greatness he had.”

Have to agree with Colin here VERY VERY MUCH.

January 2nd, 2012 at 12:09 pm

of course Ajet, but you see, there’s the thing. Watching Fed’s movement (I think it was Dave who posted it (not sure though), Fed 2007 and Fed 2011, there really was very little between them as well as someone here posting stats, the stats were almost identical save for Fed’s excellent First serve.

So whilst yes, he may be a half step slower, the magic is still there, just not as consistent. I just believe others (Novak and Rafa) have raised their game and whatever people believe, for a right handed player to play a left handed player is a disadvantage as there are less of them on tour and federer has beaten many of the left handers. Everyone has a nemesis. It’s what makes the sport so exciting, but then again, everyone is beatable too. Ajet, to say the players were ‘unfit, jaded or absent’ is to diminish Roger’s win. That is what is unfair in my view. Tsonga was superb. Superb all the way through and in fact, throughout the whole year. Federer has played him consistently and more recently, beaten him. Tsonga has beaten both Novak and Rafa in the past and is certainly no pushover. He is practically a top 5 player and all the players are scared of him. No one wants to play Tsonga in a first round and that is effectively what Federer did at London, to play him the first round of the round robin stages.

Federer’s win, movement, shot making was remarkable, all the more remarkable because he was under the radar, novak was supposed to beat everyone there as well as Murray.

And don’t forget Rafa had the same amount of time off as Roger, plus Roger played a Davis cup tournament in Australia, jetting from one end of the globe to the other – that’s why he took the 5/6 week break and it paid off.

Novak’s year was astonishing last year, stupidly astonishing – it’s no wonder he would have felt some elements of tiredness after his monumental efforts.

jane Says:

Did anyone see Murray’s match? I see it went the distance, with Andy dropping set one, but finishing strong. First match so bound to be some rust, though I do hope AM begins to be a faster starter in matches.

jane Says:

Thanks skeeze. I went googling around too. Sounds like just a slow start and that he’ll be fine. :)

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