Andy Murray seeks coach who will commit ‘a number of years’
Andy Murray is keen to have a new coach in place as soon as possible but says he hasn't yet spoken to John McEnroe
It was obviously an eventful journey to Rome from Madrid, where Andy Murray continued to practise after his third-round loss to the impressive qualifier Santiago Giraldo.
First there was a flight delay, then a problem from the airport to the Foro Italico, though any journey through traffic to the edge-of-town venue of the Rome Masters is a long and challenging one.
Even a laid-back Murray had cause to comment on the dangers of driving through this city. “What I don’t like [about Rome] is the driving! It feels a bit dangerous to me. All the cars have big scratches on them. Great city though!,” he said.
Ideally, I would have someone in place before the two Slams, but I haven’t spoken to anyone yet
But it was about his plans for a new coach to replace Ivan Lendl, who parted from Murray just ahead of the Miami Masters, that the waiting media was interested when he reached his hastily reconvened news conference.
He reaffirmed that he had hoped to appoint before the next Grand Slam on the tour, the French Open, which begins in a fortnight’s time, though it is now beginning to sound as though Wimbledon—or even later—may be his new target.
“Ideally, I would have someone in place before the two Slams, but I haven’t spoken to anyone yet,” said Murray.
“I’ve thought about a lot of people, I’ve written down a lot of people, and there’s also been some people I hadn’t thought of who contacted management saying they would like to do it.
“So I just need to decide on a couple of people now, speak to them, see how much time they can give—and whether I think that can still work—and move forward from there.”
Perhaps it’s a case of not wanting to get his fingers burnt twice, but Murray has clearly decided to take his time and get this appointment right.
“After the Davis Cup [against Italy in April], I’d been away a long time. I wanted to spend a bit of time away from tennis and not thinking about tennis for a little while. And when I got back to practising, I started to think a bit more about what I wanted. But I’m not going to call 50 people: I’ll wait until it gets to just a couple, and we’re getting close to that now. Then I’ll make some calls.”
Who “the couple” might be remains a secret, and may or may not include John McEnroe. The name of the American who, Murray admitted, he has “had a good relationship with since I was very young”, is the latest high-profile name to be linked to Murray, though not with a great deal substance.
When tackled about the rumours, Murray was adamant: “To be honest, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to him. I know he’s very busy, but when I do see him, I’ll certainly speak to him.”
And that busy schedule could prove to be a factor for a number of possible candidates.
“I don’t want a six-month job or a one-year job. I want someone who can work a number of years. That’s what I was hoping for from Ivan, but he’s also a very busy guy, and circumstances change.
“So it’s very important that whoever it is knows I want it to be a long-term thing, and that’s why I’ve not put in a lot of phone calls now. I don’t want to mess up and pick anyone: ‘X person was a great player, and that’s going to work for sure, or that person’s a great coach and has done a great job for someone else.’ It doesn’t work like that.”
Murray, of course, has other pressing things on his mind, like trying to reach his first clay final in Rome and make an impression at Roland Garros. And he talked of his confidence: “Confident of changing results, getting better. I try that on every court, every year. I’m confident that when the French Open comes round, I’ll be playing very good tennis.”
He finds himself in a tough section, potentially facing the seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal in the quarters, Monte Carlo champion Stan Wawrinka in the semis and two-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic in the final—though ambitions of a run that far look optimistic.
As he said: “Ideally I would get a few more matches in this week but regardless, my goals over the years have been to try and play my best tennis at the Slams, and it’s definitely happened in the last few years.”
And indeed Murray, as well as accumulating nine Masters titles, has now won the US Open and Wimbledon from seven Major finals.
What’s more, “a few more matches” would boost his ranking points after he retired in his opener in Rome last year and subsequently withdrew from the French Open. And points—and rankings—will be good to have when he embarks on his defence at Queen’s and Wimbledon come June.