Wimbledon just got a whole lot more interesting, as World No. 2 Andy Murray announced on Sunday that he will team back up with former coach Ivan Lendl on a trial basis for the grass season.
Murray, who turned 29 last month, is in the midst of a strange season that has seen him reach the final of both Grand Slams and beat Novak Djokovic for the Masters 1000 title in Rome. Yet, despite that success, he seems as far away as ever from claiming his third major due to Djokovic always standing in his way, something Murray conceded was a factor in reuniting with Lendl.
After splitting with another Hall of Famer in Amelie Mauresmo, Murray had cited the desire for an every week coach, something that so-called “super coaches” rarely do (see Michael Chang with Kei Nishikori or Stefan Edberg during his time with Roger Federer’s team).
That made Sunday’s announcement somewhat surprising, given that much of why Lendl, an 8-time Slam winner, stepped away from coaching in early 2014 was the time commitment (he also later declined overtures from Tomas Berdych to join his camp).
However, the best time of Murray’s career came under Lendl’s tutelage, with both major titles (2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon), as well as the 2012 gold medal at the London Olympics, won with Lendl in his corner. Combine that with Murray expressing regret that they split in the first place, and the Scot appears willing to budge on his expectations. The Daily Mail notes Lendl, 56, is prepared to commit to 18-20 weeks of the season should they continue past Wimbledon, which would leave current coach Jamie Delgado to cover the remaining weeks. Delgado has taken the reins since Mauresmo departed a month ago after a year together.
Murray’s performance under Lendl was notable not only for playing more offensive tennis, but for also limiting the on-court outbursts that many feel are a detriment to his performance. The combination of back surgery and Lendl’s departure has contributed to the one-way traffic in his rivalry with Djokovic. What once stood at just 8-7 in the Serb’s favor after Murray beat him in the Wimbledon final is now 24-10.
Lendl said, “”I enjoyed working with Andy in the past. Andy and I have always stayed in contact so it should be fun to be part of his team again,” while Murray spoke with the BBC on the big move:
ANDY MURRAY ON LENDL: "It all happened really, really quickly…he messaged me yesterday and said 'let's do it.'"https://t.co/vA2RIAiNU5
— BBC Tennis (@bbctennis) June 12, 2016
Their first tournament back together will come this week in London at Queen’s Club, a tournament he has won four times, in each odd year since 2009. Murray will catch a break to start, as his first opponent, Nicolas Mahut, is still in the Netherlands after rain delayed the completion of the final there until Monday.