• Queen's

Mauresmo kept Murray waiting

Nick Atkin at Queen's Club
June 12, 2014
Andy Murray and his new coach Amelie Mauresmo practiced together for the first time on Wednesday © Getty Images

Andy Murray says new coach Amelie Mauresmo made him wait before indicating she was interested in replacing Ivan Lendl.

Murray agonised over who he wanted to guide him through the next stage of his career and admitted that the split with Lendl had hit him hard.

But when he finally decided to break new ground at the top of the men's game by appointing a female coach, he was met by a stony silence.

Tale of the tape

Andy Murray beat Radek Stepanek in their last meeting at the 2012 Shanghai Masters © Getty Images
  • Andy Murray v Radek Stepanek

  • 27 Age 35

    2005 Turned pro 1996

    6'3" Height 6'1"

    28 Career titles 5

    £18.7 million Prize money £4.5 million

    449/141 Won/lost 358/273

    4 Head-to-head 1

  • 2012 Shanghai Masters, QF - Murray 4-6 6-2 6-3
  • 2011 Monte Carlo Masters, 2nd round - Murray 6-1 6-4
  • 2009 Paris Masters, 3rd round - Stepanek 1-6 6-3 6-4
  • 2009 Cincinnati Masters, 3rd round - Murray 6-4 6-1
  • 2007 Madrid Masters, 1st round - Murray 6-4 6-1

"My partnership with Amelie began with a text message: 'I'm looking for a coach at the moment. If you're interested in chatting to me, let me know'," he wrote in his BBC column. "I don't know if she was surprised to hear from me, but she did make me wait overnight before messaging me back the next morning."

Murray enjoyed a dream homecoming on Wednesday, winning his first competitive match on British soil since his triumph in the Wimbledon final over Novak Djokovic, as he saw off Paul-Henri Mathieu to move into the third round at Queen's.

It was his first game with Mauresmo on board, although he has warned that little will change in the way he plays at Queen's or Wimbledon while they get to know each other.

She will have a lot to live up to, nonethless. "The split with Ivan Lendl was hard to get over for a little while because he was a huge part of my career. He had a big influence on me and my team.

"He was the leader because of all the things he achieved and the results we had together. That gives you more influence. If things are going horribly it's a bit different, but things had gone very well. It was tough for me, for sure, for a few weeks, but once I started thinking about different coaches, I started to move on and look for something different."

Murray admitted life on and off the tennis court has been tough for him since the day he won Wimbledon last summer.

After ending Britain's 76-year wait for a male singles champion at the All England Club on July 7, Murray has endured a turbulent ride with back surgery and the split from his former coach Ivan Lendl in March throwing up bumps in the road.

He also revealed he still feels the lingering effects of September's operation every now and then. "In a lot of ways it's been a tough year for me since I last played on grass," Murray wrote. "Getting over the back surgery I had in September was a hard process. In the slams, I played decent: a couple of quarters and then the semis at the French, which was a pretty good effort despite the result at the end.

"It took a good three or four months after the surgery before I felt strong enough to play some longer matches, and even at the French I struggled a little bit physically.

"From time to time I still feel the back but, in comparison to what it was like during the clay-court season last year, it's so much better.

"I used to be struggling when I woke up in the morning, whereas now I wake up and don't have any problems. It was affecting almost everything I did before, and now that's not the case.

Murray's second match since Mauresmo joined his team was due to take place on Thursday against Radek Stepanek on the Queen's Centre Court and his opponent is under no illusions about the task facing him.

Stepanek said: "He is a great grass-court player. Playing him here at Queen's Club, which has incredible history on Centre Court, will definitely be a great challenge for me.

"I will get ready as I did for the previous matches. I know that it's a tough task. I will come out and perform as best I can.

"They [the crowd] will support their home darling. That's normal everywhere in the world. It's nothing special."

Stepanek was also asked his view on Murray's appointment of Mauresmo as his new coach.

Roger Federer has backed the move, with Murray's mother Judy insisting the appointment has "nothing to do with gender".

"It's his choice," Stepanek added. "He has to believe what he's doing, and I believe that all his team and the people around him are supporting him, which is the most important thing.

"We have nothing to say to that. Nobody's asking different guys when somebody is taking a different coach. Obviously it's a special thing coming to men's tennis with a woman coach. It's his choice.

"The small things are making the difference, especially on that level in the highest parts of the rankings.

"You have to feel the trust with your coach and the belief that you have some goals that you're going for. If you have that chemistry and everything, then it's easier."

Elsewhere on Thursday, second seed Tomas Berdych, whom Murray could face in the semi-finals, takes on Adrian Mannarino first on Centre Court.

No.1 seed Stanislas Wawrinka faces Sam Querrey following the conclusion of Murray's match before Marinko Matosevic plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Nick Atkin is an assistant editor at ESPN. You can follow him on Twitter @NickAtkinESPN

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