Andy Murray was considered the best men’s tennis player never to have won a Grand Slam before Ivan Lendl came on board in the beginning of 2012.
With Lendl in his box and on his practice court, Murray has won an Olympic gold medal, an Olympic silver medal, the U.S. Open Championship and Wimbledon.
These successes at the top level have brought him more positive media attention, increased sponsorship and peace of mind—instead of facing questions of why he can’t win a Slam, he now is asked how many he can win.
He is now the world's No. 3 ranked player, although he previously he was considered outside the triad of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
What did Lendl change about Murray’s routine or mindset that let the talented Scot to break through and win at the highest level?
Lendl was ranked as the No. 1 player in the world for over five years and won eight Grand Slam titles.
Is it confidence he transmits, better training or technique? An enigmatic figure, he is not the kind of coach who wears his emotions on his sleeve.
At the height of his success, he appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover as, “The Champion that Nobody Cares About.” He certainly was never media–friendly in the way that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are.
Is there something in Lendl’s devil-may-care attitude that can help players, even less-talented ones than Murray win tennis matches?
Lendl was also on hand when the Czech Republic won the 2012 Davis Cup in dramatic style. This was with one top-10 player, Tomas Berdych, and 33-year-old doubles player, Radek Stepanek outplaying top-ranked Spain.
For future players Lendl has opened a junior tennis academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina. According to management, he does work with every player enrolled there and the academy's program is based on his training and experience. He also spends time recruiting.
Currently the U.S. has no players in the top 10, while Spain, France and Switzerland each have two.
An American man has not won a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open a decade ago. Future stars are needed if the U.S. is to reemerge as a tennis powerhouse.
Could the current U.S. players benefit from Lendl’s input? Czech by birth, he has been a U.S. citizen for over 20 years and a resident for more than 30. Could he be more directly involved in tennis at the national level?
Great players do not always make great coaches, but Lendl proves he can do both. In the future who wouldn’t want Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer on their practice court?
For now, whoever has Lendl in their box seems to have struck gold.
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