Murray back in the coach market after split with Petchey

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray made his ATP Tour debut just 361 days ago but this morning is seeking a third coach in his fledgling senior career after parting company yesterday with Mark Petchey. The 18-year-old cited a "difference of opinion" for the split, which took immediate effect, but did not provide any details.

Murray's fiery temperament, which most recently got him into trouble last weekend for swearing at a Davis Cup umpire, is understood not to have been a particularly relevant factor in the split. However, his single-mindedness in general did play a part. The Scot wasted no time in splitting with his previous coach, Pato Alvarez, last spring, not long after his tour debut at the Barcelona Open, again because of a "difference of opinion" over his development.

Murray said yesterday that he was "not in a hurry" to find a replacement for Petchey. That search is under way, however, and last night, speaking from his academy in Florida, the veteran coach Nick Bollettieri issued an open invitation to Murray to use his facilities and expertise.

"I'm not throwing my hat in the ring but I'd love Andy to come here, even use it as a training base if he likes, and see how we might help him," Bollettieri said. "I like the kid's style. He's a radical, like Andre Agassi at the same age."

Bollettieri said that he believed an ideal full-time coach now for Murray would be Brad Gilbert, who is understood to be available. Gilbert worked with Agassi for eight years and more recently with Andy Roddick, whom he guided to the 2003 US Open title. "A guy like Brad could really make a difference to Andy. He didn't have the prettiest strokes himself as a player, but he knows how to win. And what he did with Roddick, in channelling all his cockiness into his game and getting him focused, proved what he can do with that type of player."

Cracks in the Murray-Petchey relationship surfaced in recent weeks, particularly over Murray's timetable, which Petchey was dictating to the Scot's apparent displeasure. When Murray was asked after one tournament why he was playing so many events in America, he replied, somewhat testily: "My coach makes my schedule."

It is also not insignificant that Murray's biggest victory to date - his first ATP Tour title, in San Jose in February, where he stunned Lleyton Hewitt to take the title - came when Petchey was not in attendance. Accompanying him instead was his girlfriend, Kim Sears, and the joke afterwards - and it was a joke - was that perhaps Petchey was expendable.

Petchey was appointed as Alvarez's successor during Wimbledon last summer, when Murray reached the third round before a five-set defeat to David Nalbandian. He went on to end the year as the second-youngest player inside the world's top 100, and has since climbed to No 44 in the rankings.

"Mark has been a big part of my success in the last 10 months and we had a great run together," he said yesterday. "It was a difficult decision [to split], and one based solely on the development of my tennis. From a personal point of view, Mark and his family have been very supportive of me and I am very grateful. I have not thought about my next coach and will take my time to try and find one that can help me develop the next stages of my tennis."

Petchey, who left his post as the manager of national men's training at the LTA to team up with Murray, said: "I am very proud of what we have achieved together - getting Andy into the top 50 and winning his first ATP title at the age of 18. I have no doubt that Andy will make the top 10 and be a Grand Slam winner in the future, and wish him every success."

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