But can the golden duo add to their collection of greatest hits after so long apart?
It is an undeniable boon for Murray that Lendl wants work with him again. It was reported that Lendl needed convincing to commit to their second spell and wanted reassurances on what exactly he was getting into, so he needs to see something now to bring it back a third time. His only coaching stint since splitting from Murray for the second time in 2017 was a 12-month spell with Alexander Zverev which appeared to end on bitter terms. Zverev suggested that Lendl was more interested in his dog and his game of golf than playing tennis; Lendl said it was “difficult to work” with Zverev due to some “off-field issues”.
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Lendl hasn’t been on the coaching radar since the partnership ended in July 2019.
Maybe it helps that Murray doesn’t hire Lendl as a full-time coach to travel the world with him. Lendl is a reluctant flier and ended the first partnership with Murray because he was not ready to commit to more than 15 weeks of touring. He won’t meet Murray in Indian Wells next week but could join him at the Miami Open as he lives nearby. The two will then work together on a practice block in Florida during the clay season and try to get Murray in the best shape possible for the grass.
If this is not the last roll of the dice for Murray, he feels close.
After some positive signs in the second half of last year, Murray has regressed somewhat in recent months. He made the Sydney International final but did not win more than one match in any of the other five tournaments he appeared in. He also occasionally cut a frustrated figure and lamented not getting “consistent messages” from his coaching staff.
Murray has had trial periods with former Johanna Konta coach Esteban Carril and Jan de Witt since splitting with longtime coach Jamie Delgado at the end of 2022. He has also worked with his friend D childhood Colin Fleming in Doha and ex-coach Dani Vallverdu, who is currently coaching Stan Wawrinka.
Murray always emphasized that he felt there was more to come and that he was on the right track. If anyone wants to take it to the next level, it will be Lendl.
The eight-time Grand Slam champion has helped Murray experience the greatest moments of his career and could restore his game to an edge. Murray has bogged down matches over the past year, rarely getting through them in an easy fashion. That his metal body and hip seem to have held up well is a huge plus, but Lendl will surely try to get Murray to play more aggressively and finish points faster. If he still can, that’s another matter.
Murray also conceded recently that he “needs to be a lot tougher mentally”.
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It is widely believed that Murray had the quietest moments of his career when Lendl was in his corner. There wasn’t as much shouting or shouting, not as much wasted energy. It’s certainly hard to imagine Murray berating his box like he did at last year’s US Open for taking only one pair of sneakers if Lendl was there. Murray had two sets to like in this match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, but then seemed to get distracted by the length of his opponent’s bathroom breaks and lost sight of the winning post.
Lendl should bring steel and safety to Murray.
Rafael Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni credited Lendl with transforming Murray’s mental approach.
“The talent and the shooting were always there, but Lendl definitely helped Murray with the mental side. In important moments, Murray could be a lot calmer on the court, a lot calmer.”
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Lendl and Murray have a lot in common. They are both parents – Lendl has five children, Murray four – they both own dogs, and Lendl, like Murray, struggled with injuries later in his career. He will know what Murray is going through and should understand that the training blocks may not be as intense as in their previous periods. Murray has previously suggested he pushes himself too much in the past and it was during his second stint with Lendl that he first struggled with injury issues.
It would be fascinating to hear Lendl’s assessment of Murray’s play at the moment and the room for improvement. One of the qualities Murray admires in Lendl is his honesty – “he says exactly what he thinks and while I don’t always like to hear him, what he says is often what I need to hear. ‘hear,’ Murray said after winning Wimbledon in 2016 – and that might just be what we need right now. But what if Lendl can no longer lift Murray? Is there another place to turn?
As his 35th birthday approaches, time is running out for Murray. Now is the time to find out exactly what he has left.
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