Andy Murray should keep the faith with new coach Amelie Mauresmo, according to former British No.1 Tim Henman.
Mauresmo said she would leave thoughts on the future of the fledgling relationship until after Wimbledon, having originally only signed on to join Team Murray for the grasscourt season. Murray admitted major improvements were needed in his game following his quarter-final defeat at the All England Club and won’t play again until the Rogers Cup in Toronto at the start of next month.
John McEnroe claims he should reforge his relationship with Ivan Lendl, who stepped down as Murray’s coach earlier this year after what was becoming an increasingly long-distance relationship. Lendl guided Murray to Grand Slam victories at the US Open and Wimbledon plus Olympic gold at London 2012 and claimed he couldn’t commit the time to do the job properly, a decision that left the Scot deeply wounded.
But Henman believes the fledgling relationship between Mauresmo and Murray is showing signs of promise despite the disappointment of this week’s title defence.
“It was an interesting choice and the timing was always going to be tough, coming in just a few weeks before Andy defended the Wimbledon title in the biggest two weeks of his year,” said Henman.
“It’s hard building a relationship when the eyes of the tennis world are focused on you.
“Every practice session here at Wimbledon has cameras and photographers. I’m sure that wouldn’t have made it easy.”
Henman only had three coaches during his career, with David Felgate guiding him from promising teenager to the world’s top ten and Wimbledon semi-finals.
In contrast, Murray has been through six coaches in nine years – with Lendl his longest serving at just three seasons.
And bookmakers, the self-appointed barometers of sport in form, claim the former women’s Wimbledon winner is now heavily odds-on to be dropped before the Australian Open next January.
“At this stage in your career, continuity is really important,” added Henman.
“I think they should stick together for a good while now. Chopping and changing will not work in the long run.
“Andy will reflect on this and know he’s not done at Wimbledon yet – he’ll have many opportunities in the future.” Meanwhile, some have wrongly pondered whether Murray’s 12 months of success, which started with Olympic gold and concluded with last year’s historic Wimbledon victory, have halted his desire.
They have speculated whether the 27-year-old still has what it takes to compete against the new crop of teenage tennis talent, starting to upset the established order.
But they forget Murray underwent back surgery last September and his consistent record at Slams, 14 consecutive last-eight appearances, remains intact. It’s also worth noting that Murray is six years younger than Roger Federer, who was set to appear in his ninth Wimbledon semi-final today.
“Roger is a great example of someone who is still doing it at the very highest level,” said Henman.
“After losing in the second round last year, he went back to the practice court and worked hard. He’s already got 17 Grand Slam titles; he had nothing to prove to anyone but himself.
“Andy is not finished yet. He just didn’t play well in one match and a very good opponent took advantage. He’s plenty of time left at the top of the game and has more Grand Slam titles in him.”
n TIM HENMAN is an Ambassador for HSBC, sponsor of the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 & Under Challenge, the UK’s largest national junior grass court tournament.