Sport Tennis Can Mauresmo help Murray hold on to the title?

Can Mauresmo help Murray hold on to the title?

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You have to hand it to Andy Murray, the Scot really does go his own way.

His partnership with Ivan Lendl raised eyebrows in tennis circles when it was announced in December 2011, but was vindicated with two grand slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.

Lendl helped Murray conquer his grand slam demons. Photo: Getty

Now, in appointing Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach, the 27-year-old from Dunblane has again gone against the grain.

Women’s tennis cops a lot of flak, much of it justified. Certainly the quality on display in the early rounds of a grand slam in the women’s draw does little to endear it to neutrals.

You could almost hear the collective gasp when Murray announced Mauresmo as his new coach.

Tennis writer Richard Evans reported that Novak Djokovic’s former coach Marion Vajda almost ‘fell off his chair’ when he heard the news.

Marinko Matosevic was one who publicly criticised the move.

The Australian said he didn’t “think that highly” of the women’s game and would therefore never consider a female coach.

“It’s all equal rights these days. Got to be politically correct,” he said.

“So, yeah, someone’s got to give it a go. It won’t be me.”

Matosevic’s thinking, it seems, is as limited as his game.

He feels that just because women’s tennis is not the equal of men’s, Mauresmo would have nothing to offer him as a coach.

Brendan McCartney never played AFL footy, yet he is proving himself to be a very astute coach at the top level.

McCartney’s appointment paved the way for St Kilda’s Peta Searle to be appointed as a development coach, the first female ever to occupy such a role at an AFL club.

Tennis was a pioneering sport in terms of gender equality, but there is still a disconnect between the sexes, as evidenced by comments from Ernests Gulbis and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in recent times.

From what I understand of tennis coaching at the elite level, Mauresmo is not going to be showing Murray how to serve, or how to run around and step into a forehand. These fundamentals are already entrenched.

Can Mauresmo help Murray hold onto this? Photo: Getty 

Rather, she will be a motivator, a mentor, a sounding board and a tactician. Or, in the case of Murray, just someone to sit in a good seat as he glares menacingly in her direction and swears at himself.

Neil Harman, The Times’ tennis correspondent, had reservations about the move, but later said he felt it could prove a masterstroke.

“I have to say, initially regarding idea as fanciful, Murray and Mauresmo is a brilliant fit. She is engaging, sensitive and thoughtful,” he tweeted.

Certainly Mauresmo will emote more than the famously staid Lendl, and it may be that at this stage of his career Murray needs a velvet glove more than an iron fist.

To date, Murray and Mauresmo’s careers have followed similar trajectories – both were prodigious but frail talents, who broke through in their mid 20s to win two grand slams.

Murray’s destiny, he feels, should include a few more before he rides off into the sunset.

It is both the Scotsman’s blessing and curse that he was born within a week of Novak Djokovic, and about a year after Rafael Nadal.

There are no easy slams in this era of men’s tennis – if you win one, you know you earned it.

Murray’s trip to the semi-finals in Paris showed his back problems are behind him and as he embarks on his Wimbledon defence next week, we’ll find out if his partnership with Mauresmo can take him to another major.

However it ends, you could never excuse him of being afraid to try something new, or caring what anyone else thinks.

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