Is a new coach what Andy Murray needs?

By Online Editorial

andy murray

Roger Federer doesn’t need one but he’s the greatest player in the game’s history — Simon Mundie discusses the role of coaches and profiles some of the men who might help Andy Murray realise his Grand Slam dream.

In winning his sixteenth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, Roger Federer further confirmed his status as the greatest player of all time. One of the reasons why Federer’s achievements are so remarkable is that most of his success has come without the help of a coach.

Admittedly, he credits the late Peter Carter with playing an essential role in helping his game develop during his formative years, and Peter Lundgren and Tony Roche guided him to several of his major victories including his inaugural Wimbledon win; but still, the majority of his success has come without a coach.

Few, if any, of Federer’s peers would think of approaching the tour in the same way. For them, having a coach on hand is vital, and picking the right person can be the difference that makes the difference at the top level. When you look back at some of the best players of the last couple of decades like Sampras, Becker and Agassi, their greatest achievements came when they had someone in their box able to give them that extra something that allowed them to then go out and perform to the best of their abilities.

With Andy Murray proving that he is a genuine Grand Slam contender, the question is, does his current set-up give him the best possible chance of success? Does Alex Corretja have the acumen away from the hard courts? And if not, who of the acknowledged current elite group of coaches could offer him the best chance of achieving his biggest goals?

Brad Gilbert is the man who was described by Andre Agassi as “the greatest coach of all time.” He led the Las Vegas showman to six Grand Slam titles, making their partnership the most successful in the open era, alongside Tony Roche and Ivan Lendl. Gilbert also transformed Andy Roddick’s game, turning him from a promising up and comer to Grand Slam champion and world number one in 2003.

It was that resume that led the LTA to fork out vast sums of money to secure his services to coach Andy Murray in 2006, and while their partnership bore fruit in terms of Murray’s improvement as a player, it ended after only 16 months because the Scot found Gilbert to be too abrasive a character to be spending all his time with.

Murray clearly enjoys the team he has around him, and values having people he can relax with off court. As he was unable to do this with Gilbert, he would need a more laid back character to work alongside him.

The first name that springs to mind is Larry Stefanki. He masterminded Andy Roddick’s impressive win over Murray at last year’s Wimbledon championships. After that match, Stefanki gave a now infamous interview in which he questioned Murray’s approach, saying he was too passive, and declaring that tennis was still a game won in the forecourt. Stefanki clearly knows what he’s talking about, having had successful spells with the likes of Marcelo Rios, John McEnroe, Fernando Gonzalez as well as Roddick, and is laid back enough to fit into team Murray.

Bob Brett is another coach who could be of significant value to Murray’s quest for world domination. He worked with Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic and, most famously, Boris Becker when the German was at the peak of his powers. He is a great believer in ‘preparation is key’, a philosophy he shares with Murray, and his protégées have tended towards attacking tennis, the area that the Scot most needs to improve.

Darren Cahill, or ‘killer’ as he’s known on tour, turned down the chance to work with Roger Federer early last year saying that the travel commitments were simply too much for him. As Andy Murray is so at ease travelling with his team, all he needs is someone to help him during key moments of the season, and who could help him make a few tweaks here and there.

Cahill’s CV is impressive: he took over from Gilbert in coaching Agassi and achieved success with Hewitt, and anyone who is courted by Roger Federer is clearly a special talent. Andy Murray could do worse than checking the Australian’s availability.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited


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