As Ivan Lendl concedes, time is not on their side when it comes to maximising his third coaching collaboration with Andy Murray.
After returning to courtside on Saturday at the Miami Open, the 62 year-old Czech reflected on the moment that the double Wimbleton champion got in touch with his old mentor, asking to reunite.
‚Andy said one thing, he said ‚Look I don’t know how much time I have left and I want to go with people I know what I’m going to get‘,‘ recalled Lendl. ‚ That makes perfect sense. We talked about it and decided we would give it a try.‘
Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl have combined forces for the third time in their careers
So instead of labouring on the European clay courts next month, Murray will head to the US Tennis Association’s headquarters in Orlando for four weeks to work under the unswerving eye of the eight-times Grand Slam champion.
The only interruption will be a promised trip to Disneyland when Murray’s wife Kim and their four children come to visit next week.
On Saturday Lendl made the two-hour drive south from his Florida base to watch Murray lose in straight sets to world number two Daniil Medvedev. It was his sixth second round loss in succession, but the restored coach saw enough that was encouraging. The player’s much improved body language was notable.
Lendl drove two hours to watch Murray in his defeat to Daniil Medvedev in Miami
‚As stupid as it sounds, I didn’t know what to expect. But yes I was surprised pleasantly,‘ said Lendl. ‚He played a really good match two nights ago. I thought today’s match was a lot closer than the score indicated, even though he had no break points, but he was in a lot of games to thirty and so on. The rallies were good. If he had served better it would have helped.‘
He is less surprised that, as one of the golden generation of the past fifteen years, his player is managing to compete with a metal hip.
‚I have two of them, so yes, I believe it. Obviously it’s amazing because it hasn’t been done before, but maybe this new normal could be the future.. Medicine is wonderful for things like that and he’s clearly put in a lot of hard work.
‚You are asking this with a straight face after what Rafa has done in Australia. All these guys have incredible determination. They are just like bulldogs and they want to do things because they haven’t been done before.
Though time is not on Murray’s side, Lendl is still confident the Scot can challenge at the top
‚If they set their mind to it then they can achieve amazing things. Rafa said he wasn’t even sure he’s going to be able to play again, then he goes and wins the Australian Open so yes, these guys can do it.‘
The overarching idea is to give Murray the best possible chance at Wimbleton. He will give himself a jump on the others and during the second week of Roland Garros plans to play a grass court Challenger event in Surbiton.
‚I would say grass is probably Andy’s best surface. A lot of the players, it’s their worst surface. That would obviously increase his chances.‘
He pointed out that in 2017 Murray managed to reach the quarter finals at SW19, even when he was clearly hampered by developing hip issues.
Murray won all three of his Grand Slam titles when Lendl was in attendance with him
‚Yeah, and he probably shouldn’t have been playing that. I clearly could see that he was limited quite a bit the entire time.‘
Murray has always been at his most calm and focused when Lendl is there, and won all his three Grand Slams when he was in attendance.
‚I think he has been in a good place. I think you know in a match like this where you have one of the top two players in the world, you can’t really get frustrated for one second or he will just take you apart. The guy is very good and if you lose your focus and start worrying about other things, that’s not going to help you.‘
Even with so much success achieved together, it remains Mission Improbable.