Mats Wilander says Ivan Lendl’s return as Andy Murray’s coach can be ‘good medicine’ in the latest chapter of his career
Mats Wilander believes the return of Ivan Lendl can unlock the missing ingredient that could propel Andy Murray back up the world rankings and provide the Scot with a fitting swansong.
The three-time Grand Slam champion has bemoaned his struggle for consistency since returning from career-threatening hip surgery and currently sits at 85 in the world.
Murray insists he is still capable of competing with the Tour’s finest stars but his failure to back up some promising results with deeper runs in major tournaments has left him hugely frustrated.
It has led the former world number one to revisit a partnership with Lendl that helped him to win some of the sport’s biggest prizes, and Wilander can see why the Brit has turned back to his former coach for inspiration.
“I think Ivan Lendl is not coming back to Andy Murray to help him to win another Grand Slam. I think he’s coming back because he sees that Andy Murray is not utilizing all his talent,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“He’s not playing the tennis that will help him do well or do better again. And Andy Murray to me most probably feels that. But what is it? What is it that Andy Murray needs to change? Is it hitting the ball harder? Is it to have a different attitude? Is it coming to the net more? Whatever it is, something is not clicking in Andy’s game.
“And even Ivan Lendl, I think, believes that he might be able to help him. This doesn’t mean to me that if they don’t win a Grand Slam together, this will be a disappointment. It’s just positive that both of them are willing to go back to what was successful in the past.
Wilander stops short of suggesting this could be a last throw of the dice for Murray but does think the veteran star should be content with making a different kind of impact to the one he enjoyed during the first stage of his career.
“The last dance (could be coming up) for him because of his age,” he adds. “But also, we have to realise that he is basically playing tennis on borrowed time because he was not supposed to be able to play tennis again.
“A few years back when semi-retired with his hip injury, we all thought that was it. He thought that was it. So now he’s back. This is a bonus, part of his career. He’s had an unbelievably successful career, and he’s a huge star around the world, and he’s Sir Andy Murray. Maybe it doesn’t mean it’s the last dance. It just means that to the music that he is trying to play now he needs to dance with Ivan Lendl.”
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Two-time champion Murray is currently in action at the Miami Open where he set up a mouthwatering second round showdown with Daniil Medvedev courtesy of an impressive 7-6 6-1 victory over world No. 36 Federicio Delbonis.
Medvedev has endured an unsettled spell since his run to the Australian Open final with Russia’s conflict with Ukraine offering a difficult backdrop for a player who rose to world number one for a fleeting moment ahead of Indian Wells.
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Wilander suspects the political issues with his homeland will be an evident distraction but feels Medvedev must try to concentrate his focus on becoming an all-court player having already achieved two life-long goals over the past six months.
“Well, first of all, I have no idea how, if you are a Russian citizen, the war could not affect you somehow emotionally. I mean, I really think that’s important to point out,” says Wilander.
“Now, if you put that aside – which is impossible to do but if you’re able to do that – Daniil Medvedev has achieved the two goals in his tennis career.
“He won a Grand Slam and he became world number one. So what’s the third goal after that? The third goal goes back to what we did when we were young. The goal is to improve and Daniil Medvedev needs to improve his tennis.
“Not on fast hard courts. But he needs to improve his tennis on slow hardcourts. He needs to improve it on the clay court. He needs to improve it on the grass court.
“So 75% of the year is not played on Daniel Medvedev’s favorite surface. So he needs to turn that ratio around where 75% of the time he feels like he’s playing in an environment that makes him play his best tennis.
“That’s not the case with Daniil Medvedev… But because he’s won a Grand Slam because he has become the world number one, he’s achieved that, forget it now, Daniel, it’s time to go back to work and become a better tennis player.”
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