May 17, 2017
Andy Murray has two things working in his favour, with Wimbledon 2017 just around the corner and the title to defend.
These advantages could mean a very happy ending for Murray at Wimbledon – just as he comes under increasing fire following his defeat in Rome to Fabio Fognini.
First of all, Ivan Lendl is about to ride to the rescue – and Murray’s coach rarely if ever fails to inspire his man to greater things.
Secondly, the pressure is off – because the tennis world has lowered its expectations of the world number one after his poor start to the year.
Combine those two factors, and it may well be that the faithful Murray fans who haven’t given up hope of him doing great things at Wimbledon 2017 will be richly rewarded after all.
Although he often hates to admit it, Murray without Lendl is a shadow of the player he can be. Murray with Lendl is that much more of an alpha male – aggressive, edgy and super-competitive.
Not that Andy wants anyone to believe that Lendl is anwering some kind of desperate SOS prior to the French Open, which starts at the end of this month.
Murray insists: ‘He was always going to fly into London and we were going to fly to Paris together either on the Monday or the Tuesday.
‘And then, depending on how I get on in Paris – hopefully it goes well – he will be there for the majority of the grasscourt season. If it goes badly, then maybe he goes home after the French for a bit.’
The famous advice of “Strictly” judge Len Goodman to singer Will Young springs to mind at this point: ‘Show up, keep up, shut up.’
Murray needs to explain the problems he has encountered – particularly the lack of movement against the explosive Fognini – and then listen to Lendl and do exactly as he is told.
The Scot will have to make Lendl feel valued like never before, in order to keep him in his camp for every possible moment.
Giving Ivan the chance to go home again, just when he is needed for the grass-court warm-up phase in the build-up to Wimbledon, is not a good idea.
Maybe there isn’t enough time for Lendl to work his miracles and get Murray back to his very best in time for Roland Garros. Andy begs to differ, though he doesn’t claim to have the answers yet.
‘I’m just not playing good tennis and I need to try and work out how to turn that round. I believe I will. And I need to do it quickly, because there are some pretty important tournaments coming up.
‘I know a lot of people think I have got no chance of doing anything at the French after the last couple of weeks, but I think I can.’
That optimism is good and shows that he is aware of an easing of the pressure that always comes with being world number one. He says that ultimate status never weighed him down in the first place. He is wrong.
And this could be the turning point.
Lendl will do the rest. Ivan will come up with the answers. And this could represent a new start for Murray in 2017.
Forget the burden of that world number one title. Go back to basics with your key mentor. Relish the newfound status of underdog, the man everyone has written off.
Yes, Andy Murray is about to become a very dangerous wounded animal indeed. The timing is perfect.
Expect Andy Murray to mount a very big challenge at Wimbledon 2017. This could yet be a very special year for him.
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