I didn't come here to have a good time, says poker-faced coach Lendl

 

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The Independent Online

Even in victory, the iceman was not going to melt. Shortly after Andy Murray's epic triumph, Ivan Lendl, the coach who has done so much for the Scot this year, was asked what his feelings were. Elation? Happiness? Joy? Satisfaction? "I didn't come here to have a good time," Lendl said. "I came here to help Andy win and he did, so it's job done."

When Murray recruited Lendl, eight times a Grand Slam champion, he saw in him a man who could help him to make his final breakthrough. Like the Scot, the 52-year-old Lendl had lost his first four major finals. Their first Grand Slam tournament together, at the Australian Open in January, saw Murray lose in marathon semi-final to Novak Djokovic – four hours and 50 minutes – but Lendl liked what he saw.

"To me, one of the most important matches of the year, maybe the most important, was his loss to Novak at the Australian Open," Lendl said in New York. "Because that was just a war, like tonight, and that has given him the belief that he can hang with these guys. And also it showed him what it takes him to win, so it didn't catch him by surprise today."

He added: "It's very unlikely you're going to roll over an opponent like Novak. It's unlikely in today's tennis that you're going to run through the whole field without having difficult matches. It can happen in the first round, it can happen in the semi-finals, it can happen in finals. It can happen anywhere. These guys are so good. The game is much deeper than it was when I played 30 years ago, or whatever it was, and if you're not on top of your game every single day, someone will take you out."

After Murray's moderate clay-court campaign this year, some were doubting the benefits of his new coaching set-up, but Lendl said: "Both Andy and I were saying: 'Give us six to nine months.' Do the maths. You can help, obviously, somebody in a very short period of time. However, it takes longer than that to help more than that, for things to set in."

Lendl said he thought Monday's final had turned in the fourth set, even though Djokovic won it. "To my mind Andy started looking better than Novak halfway through the fourth," he said. "He was unlucky on some big points."

Asked if he had been surprised by anything about Murray since they started working together, Lendl said: "That his sense of humour, maybe, is as sick as mine." Now at least they have something very healthy to chuckle over.

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