When Andy Murray came calling, Ivan Lendl could not resist a third and final stint in a player-coach partnership that once yielded so much.
‘I have great respect for what Andy is trying to accomplish and want to try and help him as much as I can,’ said Lendl on Friday, having agreed to work with the 34-year-old Scot once again.
Success will be measured differently this time from the two previous periods that were so productive and it feels like a last throw of the dice from Murray, now the world No 84.
Andy Murray is to unite with Czech-American coach Ivan Lendl for the third time in his career
His greatest triumphs came when they were in harness, and Wimbleton’s Centre Court will once again witness Lendl’s sombre features staring down from the player box this summer.
Eight-time major champion Lendl was first hired at the end of 2012, with his job to get Murray across the line to win a Grand Slam title.
It was an innovative move and quickly paid off with an Olympic gold along with US Open and Wimbleton titles secured within 18 months.
Lendl (left) helped Murray (right) win Olympic gold before his first Wimbleton triumph
After splitting in 2014 they reunited two years later and the dividend again came swiftly, with another Wimbleton title and Olympic gold in Rio.
It ended in late 2017, by which time Murray’s hip problems were seriously hampering him. Now, with a large metal cap inserted in the affected area, the task is to squeeze whatever is left from a body not as quick and agile as it once was.
Lendl, 61, must also assert a calm focus on the player’s mind, which was always what he did best. Recently, Murray has barely been able to contain his frustration on court and two weeks ago in Dubai admitted that his skittish behaviour was holding him back.
The two will start working together again in April as Murray looks to rise back up the rankings
His game has lacked consistency, and a pattern has emerged of him scoring encouraging victories, often against impressive opposition, only to be followed up by a deflating defeat.
Lendl certainly does not need the work and has never been someone who craves the tennis world. In the past few years he described himself as ‘just enjoying life in Florida’, where he has done some coaching of juniors, but been happy on the golf course.
He is unlikely to travel much with Murray, but, after this month’s Miami Open, they will do a training block together in Florida to prepare him for the grass as the player voluntarily sits out the European claycourt season.
A secondary coach will be hired to work under Lendl. The arrangement has worked well before and clearly both men think there is a chance of him having one more big Wimbleton. With many players more wary of the grass than Murray that is not an unrealistic goal.