Australian Open 2014: No flowers for Kim Sears but Andy Murray hopes to bloom in Melbourne
It was a comparison that a blushing Andy Murray probably wished he had never made. The appointment of former top players as coaches has been the talk of tennis in recent weeks – after Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer signed up Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg respectively – and Murray was asked at his pre-Australian Open press conference here yesterday if there had been times when he had tried to impress Ivan Lendl, who has now worked with him for two years.
"That's definitely there at the beginning of the relationship," Murray said. "I guess it's like any relationship that you have. If it's with a woman, I would try to impress my girlfriend a lot more in the first few months I was with her than I do now, I guess. I guess that's natural.
"It's the same with Ivan. The first few months when I was working with him, you're kind of nervous going into practice sessions. That's a good thing. It shows that you care and want to impress him. But then over time, you get used to having him around. It's not quite the same."
Was Murray suggesting that Kim Sears, his girlfriend, did not receive flowers any more? "She didn't get many flowers at the start either," a reddening Murray said with a smile. "But, yeah, not so much."
Murray is enjoying seeing so many former champions back in the locker room. Other recent coaching recruits include Goran Ivanisevic (with Marin Cilic), Michael Chang (Kei Nishikori) and Sergi Bruguera (Richard Gasquet).
"I just think it's cool having them around," Murray said. "I know a lot of players back in the day didn't get on that well with each other. It's a bit different now in the locker room. There might be a few interesting dynamics going on there with the ex-players."
He added: "I don't think winning a major necessarily makes you a great technical coach, but it will definitely help tactically and mentally. Guys that have won majors know how to win tennis matches. They'll understand tactics, pressure situations."
Murray expects to play his first match, against Japan's Go Soeda, the world No 112, on Tuesday, when the temperature is forecast to top 40C. The Scot, who trains in Miami, said nothing could prepare him for such conditions.
"It's hot and humid in Miami, but it's just different here," he said. "Training in 32 degrees and then going out in 40, it's a huge difference. You really feel it. The court surface gets roasting, your feet get really hot, your legs start to get tired early and burn, and with the sun in your face it's so strong here that your skin's burning."
Having played only two competitive matches since back surgery in September, Murray said he would not be underestimating Soeda. "A lot of the Japanese players are fairly similar," he said. "They play from the baseline. They like to take the ball fairly early. They hit quite flat. The backhand's maybe a bit better. They compete well."
Laura Robson, who meets Kirsten Flipkens in the first round, also has a new coaching set-up. She is working with the veteran American, Nick Saviano, and 31-year-old Jesse Witten, a former player. Asked whether she had thought of going down the celebrity coach route, Robson smiled: "Not just yet. I don't know. It would be good, though, to have, like, [Steffi] Graf, but I don't see her doing it. But it would be quite fun."
Robson said she had recovered well from a wrist injury. "I've had some good practices the last couple of days," she said. "Yesterday I hit for the longest time since the end of the off-season."
Heather Watson won her third successive match in qualifying, beating the tricky Irina Falconi 6-4 7-6 to earn a first-round meeting with Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, the world No 32 and a former semi-finalist here.
"Before the tournament I was very nervous, more than I usually am, but I was actually quite happy that I was nervous because I think last year I lost those butterflies," Watson said. "I've got it back now. I really want it and I was pleased to get through that."
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