The fall and rise of Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl's masterstroke
Andy Murray has been second best for the lion's share of his career, but times are changing !
Andy Murray is currently poised at the pinnacle of the ATP rankings after enjoying probably his most successful season as a professional tennis star, having won Wimbledon, an Olympic Gold Medal and also reached the finals of both the Australian and French Open.
He is the oldest first-time No.1 in the world since the 30-year old John Newcombe achieved the feat in 1974.
A popular figure in Great Britain, the ace became the first British man since 1936 to win a Grand Slam in 2012 when he outclassed the dynamic Novak Djokovic at the Flushing Meadows in New York. Already a winner of three Grand Slam titles, Murray has been through a topsy-turvy career graph which is quite significant in its own way.
At 15, he shifted base from his native Scotland to Spain to train full time at an academy in Barcelona which was run by Emilio Sanchez, a former world No.1 in doubles. From 2008 to 2011, he was in the reckoning of making it big but failed to win a Grand Slam and played second fiddle to an era dominated by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Till then,a Grand Slam triumph seemed a far impossibility for Murray, but the best was yet to come!
The following year, his coach Alex Corretja was replaced by former World No.1 Ivan Lendl, a winner of 8 Grand Slam titles. His impact was spot on; Murray won the 2012 Olympic Gold medal, followed it by a US Open and made his entry into the record books. A year later, he blew away the same opponent – Novak Djokovic – in three straight sets to reign supreme at the All England Tennis Club in London to win his first Wimbledon and second Grand Slam title. Ivan Lendl split apart from Murray in March 2014, and guess what? A slide in form was on the way, trophy drought hit him again!
He was without a slam win till 2016, following which he summoned the Czech once again to lift him from the mess he got into, and Lendl was probably the best option as a savior for the sole reason being that the Scott had the most glorious patch of his career alongside him.
The combination seemed to work again; Murray won his second Wimbledon title getting the better of Milos Raonic, yes, an unexpected opponent in the finals in straight sets. His visit to South America was also well rewarded too. In Rio, his sheer excellence and consistently steered him to his second Olympic Gold medal after a 4-set thrashing of Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro.
Murray was all in praise for his coach and expressed how he managed to extract the best out of him, and won all the three slams under his coaching. As per the reports of The Telegraph in June, he said, “Ivan is the best coach I’ve had. Because in sport, you base how good someone is on results, and the results I had with Ivan were the best. “
For the records, Ivan is regarded as one of the Greatest Tennis players of all times along with being the dominant force in the world of the racquet sport in the 1980s and partly in the 1990s too. His infamous top-spin and strength his shots helped him prosper in the era of "power tennis."
The Czech held the record for playing the most Grand Slam finals at 19, which was surpassed by Rodger Federer in 2009.
The Scott revealed that his was also in a similar kind of situation in his playing days, and he too felt sick before Grand Slam finals and lost many of them. “He lost 11 Grand Slam finals and I have lost eight, which I would rather have not done, but there are better players than me who have lost more. It was good to have someone like that who could normalize failing, making it OK to lose, rather than it just being like,” said the two-time Wimbledon winner.
He ended the year with yet another memorable win, the ATP tour finals, defeating his nemesis Novak Djokovic at the O2 arena in London. It was his 9th title of the season and 44th of his career, and a win which saw him end the season as the World’s No.1 player.
With age still on his side, the dynamic Tennis star will be on the hunt for more titles and retain his spot at the top. Though Novak seems to be his biggest threat, yet Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, and even Rodger Federer can give him a run for his money. To sum it up, the coming year promises to be an exciting one and would definitely change the world of Tennis and determine who remains a “Great Player” and who becomes a “Great”.