Like Ivan Lendl, Kerei Abakar is enjoying his first experience coaching a senior professional. There, however, the similarities between the coaches of Andy Murray and Jérémy Chardy, who meet here tomorrow in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, end. Lendl is 52 and won eight Grand Slam titles. Abakar is 27 and has never played on the senior tour.
Until 18 months ago Abakar, who is just two years older than Chardy, was coaching juniors at Patrick Mouratoglou's academy in Paris. He was friends with Chardy, who, after parting company with Mouratoglou, suggested that they should start working together. Abakar said yesterday: "Jérémy said: 'OK, let's try it, let's do a couple of weeks, let's finish the season together. And if it works, OK'."
What did Abakar think about the prospect of pitting his brains against Lendl? "What can I say? I only have big respect for this guy, but I'm not going to feel weaker. I will just try to give my maximum strength to Jérémy. But I won't feel inferior to them. They are strong. Everybody knows that Andy is a top-four player. We know that Ivan Lendl won many Grand Slams. But I'm going to fight with him. That's it."