• What the Deuce

Is Murray turning into Lendl?

Jo Carter April 17, 2012
Andy Murray arrived in Monte Carlo sporting a new haircut © Getty Images

Andy Murray arrived in Monte Carlo sporting a new cropped haircut, and there is no danger of his curly locks impeding his vision as he kicks off his clay court season in the principality.

While a new aerodynamic hairstyle is unlikely to make too much different on court, Murray's new look makes him look remarkably similar to Ivan Lendl.

The Scot could do worse than emulating the results of his coach on clay - the former world No. 1 won 28 titles on the surface, including three French Open crowns.

Murray revealed last week that he only wanted a coach with a grand slam title in his possession. Lendl has eight. What's more, he can sympathise with Murray; having lost four times in major finals before claiming his first slam at Roland Garros in 1984.

While Murray is technically one of the most gifted players on the ATP Tour, many believe it is the mental side of the game that requires help. Having picked himself up from four defeats in grand slam finals (Murray has now lost in three) Lendl is best placed to give Murray that psychological edge.

It seems to be working. Murray's struggles after reaching the 2010 and 2011 Australian Open finals have been well publicised; most notably back-to-back defeats in Indian Wells and Miami last year as he struggled to put his disappointment behind him.

"I had to cut my hair and that's what happened"
Andy Murray sheds light on his new look

But after his first-round defeat to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in California, Murray dusted himself off to reach the final in Miami, where he fell to top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic.

"A year or two ago there would be a problem or I'd play a bad match and, rather than getting the issue sorted out, it would drag on for a little while and affect my practice," Murray said last month.

Aside from Murray's results mirroring that of Lendl's early career, their personalities seem to be well matched. Murray recently revealed that Lendl used to practise with John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors' rackets in order to gain an edge over his rivals.

As a player, Ivan Lendl was renowned for his attention to detail © PA Photos

With a change of diet, a few technical tweaks and a change to his approach, Murray has shown that his attention to detail has increased. Call it superstition, or just mixing things up, but the Scot moved hotels in New York for last year's US Open.

And now it's a change in look - Murray begins his clay campaign in Monte Carlo with a new hairstyle. He may be one of the richest sportsmen in the world, but there was no trip to an expensive hair salon for Murray.

"I had to cut my hair and that's what happened," Murray said. "It was my fitness trainer's razor, or whatever you call it, so I didn't quite know how short it was going to be. I don't really care. That stuff doesn't really bother me that much, to be honest. I'm sure for some it was a bit of a shock, but I wasn't that fazed about it."

Djokovic, who shaved his head after Serbia's Davis Cup win in December 2010, suggested that it might give Murray a little bit extra pace on the court: "I tried to copy him. I didn't go as short," he joked. "One thing is for sure: we'll both be faster on the court with less hair."

He has not yet really had a chance to show it, but Murray's fitness is likely to have improved under Lendl. We've seen signs that he is more aggressive in his approach, and it's clear that the world No. 4 has learnt from past mistakes when it comes to picking himself up after defeats.

It is easy to read too much into his new streamlined look, but small changes can make a big difference, and we wait with bated breath to see if Lendl's little tweaks can bring about major prizes.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jo Carter Close
Jo Carter is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk