Tim Henman backs Ivan Lendl to propel Andy Murray to the top
Tim Henman is backing Ivan Lendl to help Andy Murray challenge for more grand slams after returning as the Scot's coach
With Wimbledon now just more than a week away, former world number four Tim Henman insists the ball is now firmly in Andy Murray’s court as he looks to capitalise on a stunning run of form with victory at SW19.
Murray, who on Sunday announced he had reunited with former coach Ivan Lendl, will enter the Championships on June 27 as one of the favourites, after reaching his first ever French Open final earlier this month.
While the Scot fell at the final hurdle with a 6-3 1-6 2-6 4-6 defeat by Novak Djokovic in Paris, it marked an emphatic improvement on clay for world number two Murray after his success at the Rome Masters in May.
And for former British number one Henman, Lendl’s return to the Murray camp can only lead to good things as the 29-year-old gets ready to shine on British soil.
“Ivan Lendl and Andy had a lot of success in their first relationship as player-coach, winning two Grand Slams and Olympic gold,” said Henman, speaking at the 2016 Jaguar Championships National Final at David Lloyd Raynes Park on Sunday.
“They had a break and Andy was keen to get Ivan back involved for those big matches at the end of big tournaments.
“It’s not going to be about Ivan trying to teach Andy how to hit new shots, it’s about him ingraining the good habits on the practice court and keep improving in the areas he has.
“Hopefully it can pay off further down the line, but Andy has most definitely developed as a player since Lendl was last coaching him.
“The reality is that in the professional game if you’re not getting better, you’re going to be left behind because the standard is improving all the time.
“As is evident in the last six weeks of the clay court season, Andy’s playing better than I think he’s ever played before.
“He’s fit and healthy, grass is a good surface for him and he’s had a lot of success both at Queens and at Wimbledon and hopefully he can have more success this year.”
The inevitable hurdle between Murray and a second title win at Wimbledon will be Djokovic after the Serb’s victory at Roland Garros, making him the reigning champion of all four major Grand Slams.
But for Henman, the time is nigh for Murray to show he is on par with the world number one as the start of the grass season looms ever-closer.
“His game is in great shape and he’s definitely had the best clay court season of his career, winning in Rome and then getting to the final of the French Open for the first time,” said Henman.
“That’s a great foundation going into the grass court season. There is a transition now going onto the grass but I definitely fancy his chances at Wimbledon.
“Djokovic is clearly the number one player in the world right now so he will be the favourite but I think Andy is the second favourite.
“He has separated himself from the rest of the field and I’d be very surprised if the winner came from outside Djokovic or Murray.”
Joining Murray at the All England Club later this month will be older brother Jamie, who will be looking to cement his position as a world number one doubles player with a win in London alongside Brazilian doubles partner Bruno Soares.
But fast forward to August and it will be Andy that Jamie will be doubled up with as they go for gold at the Olympic Games in Rio, and for Henman, the brothers could not be in better shape as they prepare pull on their Team GB kit.
“Jamie had some difficult times going back three or four years, but with hard work and dedication, and a change in partnerships, he’s gone on to win his first Grand Slam,” he said.
“Jamie and Andy have always played good doubles together and they combined amazingly well in the Davis Cup.
“That will be the foundation for them [at the Olympics]. They know each other’s game very well and they’ll relish the opportunity to play together and represent Great Britain in Rio.”
Tim Henman was speaking at The Jaguar Championships as part of Jaguar’s partnership with David Lloyd Leisure. Visit www.jaguar.co.uk to find out more about the F-PACE, the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon