Andy Murray sheds light on coaching plans after Amelie Mauresmo split
British No1 Andy Murray discusses his split with coach Amelie Mauresmo ahead of Rome opener
The split between Andy Murray and his coach of two years, Amelie Mauresmo, which was announced in Rome yesterday, serves only to highlight how big a commitment it is to work with a top tennis player, and how few and far between are the individuals with the right credentials and style to do the job.
Talking about the success of his appointment of former Grand Slam champion Mauresmo, one of the first women to take on the major coaching role with a leading male player, he was clear.
“I think it did work: for two years I think the results that we had were good. Maybe unless I had won a Grand Slam, maybe ultimately that’s how people may judge whether it worked or not, but when she first came into the team, I was really struggling. You know, I was not doing well. My confidence was low and I was going the wrong direction.
“When she came on board, my results actually really picked up. [So] for me, the time we spent together was positive. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to win one of the Major events, because that’s what both of us wanted.
“But Roger [Federer] stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year because Edberg wanted to spend more time with his family, didn’t want to spend as much time travelling. No one batted an eyelid about that.”
Federer, like Murray, is among a growing number of players in recent years to take on what has become termed ‘a super coach’. The Swiss spent two years with his own idol Edberg, while world No1 Novak Djokovic appointed Boris Becker and Kei Nishikori works with Michael Chang: All are also Grand Slam champions.
But arguably it was Murray who set the trend when he began a hugely-successful partnership with one of tennis’s most renowned players, Ivan Lendl, at the start of 2012. The former world No1 won eight Grand Slam singles titles, and he steered Murray to the Briton’s first at the US Open and then to the Wimbledon title—along with Olympic gold at London 2012.
But ultimately, Lendl wanted to spend less time on the road, just as Edberg did, and now Mauresmo, who became a mother last August, has come to the same conclusion.
“It’s nothing to do with Amelie being a woman. I think it’s the case [for] a lot of the ex-players—it takes a lot of time to do the job well and properly. It’s not easy to do that for four, five years in a row.
“I think the end of last year we tried to make it work. You know, Amelie was in Dubai, did a training block with me and agreed to try for another year. Obviously in Australia it started well.”
Indeed Murray reached the final there before losing to Djokovic.
“But then, between the Australian Open and Rome, we only spent 10 days together, which was in Miami, and that wasn’t planned, either. That was something that we changed to try and spend a bit more time together through that period.
“It was just difficult with the amount of time required to do the job and the amount of time we were able to work together. It was just such a long period of the year, an important period where I was struggling, as well, where we weren’t getting to work through that together.”
When Mauresmo took maternity leave during the second half of last year, Murray brought in a part-time Jonas Bjorkman. After he reunited with Mauresmo at the start of this season, he added Jamie Delgado in place of Bjorkman as assistant coach ahead of the North American Masters swing.
However, many noticed that Mauresmo was not seated with Murray’s team in Miami, where he lost—as he had in Indian Wells—in his second match. He transitioned to clay well, however, reaching the semis of the Monte-Carlo Masters, where he lost in three sets to Rafael Nadal, and on Sunday night making the final of the Madrid Masters, where he lost to Djokovic, also in a three-set thriller.
So Murray has looked confident on clay, and played down difficulties about the timing of the separation ahead of the French Open.
“The problem is that the same thing was going to continue happening throughout the year. So after Wimbledon it was going to happen and then after the US Open.
“I have obviously just come from Madrid, I have had basically one proper practice before the tournament starts here, so you can’t get a lot of work done, and then you’ve got just a few days before the French Open starts—and you simply need more time than that to make an impact and make a difference…
“We certainly could have tried through to the end of Wimbledon, but longer term and medium term the same thing was going to continue happening. It just made more sense to stop now.”
So what will he look for in his next coach, and will it be another high-profile former player?
“I haven’t given it loads of thought. But it’s something that I will speak to my team about over the next few weeks and try to find something that works. Again, I want it to work long term, so I will take that into consideration.
“For me, having Jamie Delgado with me who is able to commit 35, 40 weeks of the year is very important. It isn’t easy to find that, especially if you’re going for the ex-players that have spent 15, 20 years of their life on the road for 30, 35 weeks a year. They don’t always want to do it.
“A lot of the examples—[Carlos] Moya with Raonic or Chang with Nishikori—they aren’t at every single event because they just don’t want to do it all over again.
“I think it’s important to have someone in your team that is willing to commit for that amount of time and have that consistency throughout the whole year… I’m glad I’ve got that now, which I didn’t last year with Jonas and Amelie. So I’m happy I have that consistency now and maybe try and find someone to add to that.”
Murray opens his Rome campaign, where he reached the third round last year, against qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin, ranked 87. The man from Kazakhstan beat teenage talent Borna Coric in a long three-setter in Round 1, and has lost to Murray in all three of their previous matches.
Murray is hoping to add some decent points in order to reclaim the No2 ranking ahead of the French Open: He is currently tied for points with Federer.