- Andy Murray
Murray: Lendl saved me from feeling like a loser
Andy Murray has admitted he felt like a "loser" before the appointment of coach Ivan Lendl brought him his grand slam breakthrough at the US Open in 2012, and believes he will always be disliked by some in his home nation despite his success.
The Czech joined Murray's team in January that year, two days before the Scot won in Brisbane and dedicated his triumph to "Mr Lendl".
Excerpts from Murray's new book Andy Murray: Seventy-Seven, detailing the route to glory at this year's Wimbledon Championships and serialised in The Times, reveal how the Scot was told hiring Lendl would be a risk but that he feels he "never made a better decision".
"To be frank, at that stage of my career, I was feeling like I was a loser: nothing more, nothing less," says Murray, who had lost his first four grand slam finals, just like Lendl.
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"I don't know how many people at the time thought that Ivan [Lendl] was the right person for me, but I felt that there was something intriguing about his career and how it had played out. I liked the fact that people had found him difficult to appreciate and he wasn't at all about the fame: it was about the winning for him.
"I have never made a better decision. I felt good about what was going to happen from the partnership but conscious, too, that some people were saying it was a lousy fit. Was it a risk? He hadn't followed tennis closely since his retirement, just the end of grand slams. He didn't know many of the current players and the game had changed. There are aspects of the modern game which have advanced, but also there are skills which players of his era did better, like volleying, and there are not many people in tennis who know what it is like to lose your first four grand slam finals - he is one of them and so am I.
"In 2012, after the defeat to Novak [in the Australian Open semi-final], I sat down with Ivan and [hitting partner] Dani [Vallverdu] the next day and Ivan told me how proud he was of the way I fought. I hadn't won a grand slam: he knew it, and he knew what it meant. He said it was a great effort. Then he outlined the things I needed to work on if I was going to win these matches: nothing major, but factors that would make a difference. That was it."
And Murray reveals he thinks will always be disliked by some people after a joke about England during the 2006 World Cup.
The Scot had quipped that he would be supporting "anyone but England" during the tournament.
An emotional speech after losing the 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, coupled with his London 2012 gold medal and US Open triumph, did much to turn around any lingering negative public opinion towards him, though Murray thinks some will never forgive him over the remark.
"You wouldn't believe the abuse I would get walking down the street: people would swear and shout at me," says Murray.
"Does it all go back to the 2006 World Cup, when I said something I meant to be a little joke? Has that one moment cursed me down the years? Maybe. It was the very last question I was asked during an interview. Who would I be supporting? "Whoever England are playing" was my very clearly tongue-in-cheek reply. Some have never forgotten or forgiven, and it appears they never will. It seems to be the root cause for those who give the impression of disliking me with such fervour, whatever I do. Ivan Lendl knows better than me what it's like. He was disowned by his Czech homeland."
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