Lendl has given Murray a champion's mindset
Mike Egerton-PA Wire
Andy Murray is no better a tennis player than he was 12 months ago, but he is a much better sportsman.
Ivan Lendl has turned the Scot into a champion not so much by improving his game as changing his mindset, according to a top level sports coach.
Nine months ago, the newly crowned US Open champion appointed the former world number one as his full-time coach and it instantly paid dividends as Murray reached the Australian Open final, only to lose to last night's runner-up Novak Djkovic.
However, it was the manner of Murray's progress that caught the attention. He looked calm, assured and confident and a lot of that was down to his stony-faced coach.
Mick Woods is an endurance performance coach at St Mary's University in Twickenham and believes that Lendl has given Murray the belief that he can win titles.
"Murray knows it's easy going through the first two or three rounds but the real stuff starts when he gets to the quarters, the semis and the final. He makes the final where he's expected to lose to Djokovic, but Lendl has to let him know that sooner or later he will beat Djokovic. He has to be motivated to know that he can do it this time."
Last night was Murray's fifth grand slam final and, having lost them all, his confidence must have been frail. The importance, therefore, of having someone who had been there, seen it and got a cupboardful of T-shirts was not to be underestimated.
AP Photo-Kathy Willens
"An elite player such as Ivan Lendl can draw on a lot of experiences, knowing what it's like to win grand slam titles, what it's like to sit in the dressing room", says Woods. "A lot of coaches haven't experienced that. Athletes have to deal with the final stages of a competition. You can grow with it or you can crumble, so there's an advantage if you have someone there who has been there before. Lendl doesn't have to grow with Andy Murray because he's already been there."
A big boost for Murray came last month as he stormed to the Olympic gold medal, beating Djokovic and Roger Federer along the way. This victory showed that he was capable of taking on the very best and gave him the confidence needed to take his maiden grand slam title.
Woods, who has coached runner Steph Twell to the World Junior 1,500m and European cross country title agrees the Olympic feelgood factor has helped Murray: "He was coming off a massive high. The lift of winning the Olympic Games, with that huge crowd support, was important. If you know you have the support of a coach there it's brilliant. Sometimes I stand alongside the track and even in a crowded stadium, if they know you're there it's a massive boost to the athlete."
Murray had already got a Grand Slam title in the bag, having won the US Open boys crown in 2004, and his knowledge of the venue and knowledge that he had bettered Djokovic in straight sets in London last month would have been a key aspect of Lendl's pre-tournament motivation.
"He knows he can beat the best and knows that he can perform at that venue. Lendl would have used that and worked on those positive memories to remind Murray of how well he can play. I think that will open the floodgates now. Who knows what he can do?"
Murray already had the talent and the shots to become a tennis great. Very little in terms of his actual hitting has changed, but what has been influenced is the way he deals with minor cases of adversity and his occasional bursts of aggression, finally coming out in his tennis, not in complaints to his box.
As a tennis player, Murray isn't much different, but as a person, a sportsmen and a winner, Lendl has created a whole new Andy. Wimbledon 2013 can't come quickly enough.
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I'm sorry to say he has balls unlike Tim Henman, he used to be beaten even before he went on court, Murray is a different fish, now with real determination and concentration im sure he will go on to be number one in the world now.
I sat up watching it and always had that feeling he would blow it especially after being pegged back to two sets all, but to his credit he came through, and i have to say it was one of the best games ive ever seen and belive me ive watched a few.
Well done Murray fantastic even if you dont support the english at footie when the Scots are not involved.
Congratulations to Andy, a well deserved Grand Slam Win to go with Team GB Gold ! What a year.
Where are the following "Haters" @ Someone(TRC Throbbinhood) and his alter ego @ Yrama Pena(irmarosa58), @Chris Burford(Radgast), @Jane Georges.
You all said this day would never come after Wimbledon/ Olympics, and here it is Andy Murray has won the US Open. Eat your words you sad sad losers. Andy's on a roll, bring on Wimbledon ! Nothing succeeds like success so get used to it you Haters.
Andy made true British sports fans proud last night get over it. x
Im british and dont live in scotland and am proud and have been with you all the way mr murry a simple congrats well done
well done andy, well done scotland, well done great britain ( again!! )
and yes i'm english in case you were wondering.
second that Ann Som- They are doing it with Murray ( Scottish/British) and also Rory (British/Irish). Why don't the commentators concentrate on the quality of the sport instead!!1