Murray needs help to cross the Grand Slam winning line – and Cahill can supply it

Scot goes from Nadal defeat on Centre Court to facing world No 974 in Davis Cup this week, but next month offers a chance to regroup with the coach who helped Hewitt win a slam, writes Paul Newman

The contrast could hardly be starker. Having ended his Wimbledon campaign with defeat against the world No 1 in the game's most famous stadium, Andy Murray will next play the world No 974 in a shopping centre. For Rafael Nadal read Mike Vermeer, an 18-year-old who has never played a Challenger tournament, let alone a main tour event, and for Centre Court read the Braehead Arena in Glasgow.

Many weeks ago Murray told Leon Smith, Britain's Davis Cup captain, that he would play in next weekend's Europe Africa Zone Group Two tie against Luxembourg, even though it would start just five days after Wimbledon. While there is an element of self-interest involved – all players have to make themselves available for at least one Davis Cup tie in the two years building up to an Olympics if they want to represent their country at the Games – the 24-year-old Scot has always enjoyed the team event when it fits in with his schedule.

Since the beginning of March the leading men have played in two Grand Slam tournaments and five Masters Series events, with barely a moment to draw breath in between. While they could all do with a rest, playing in the Davis Cup next weekend could be the best thing for Murray, given his bitter disappointment at losing in the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the third year in a row. He will be among familiar faces – his brother, Jamie, and friend, Colin Fleming, will be alongside him in a squad captained by his former coach – and he will be playing in front of a Scottish crowd barely 40 miles from his family home.

When Murray looked back on his dramatic slump earlier this year, when he lost four matches in a row without winning a set, after reaching the Australian Open final, he realised that he had made a mistake by going it alone for a month and not working with his regular coaches, following his return from Melbourne. He will take a short break after Glasgow but he is already looking forward to a training block in the United States at the end of this month, in preparation for next month's Masters tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, followed by the US Open.

The coming weeks will give Murray a first chance to have a prolonged spell on the practice court with Darren Cahill, who started working with the Scot at the beginning of the clay-court season, after Murray had parted company with Alex Corretja. Cahill, who is a member of the Adidas team of coaches, has broadcasting commitments during Grand Slam tournaments, when he has little opportunity to work on the court, but the Australian will have much more time to spend with Murray in the coming weeks.

Although Murray initially saw Cahill as an interim solution after his split with Corretja, he has clearly enjoyed working with the former coach of Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt. Cahill, who guided Hewitt to his first Grand Slam title, has fitted in well with Dani Vallverdu, the friend who has become a key part of Murray's coaching entourage in the last year, and the success of the arrangement has been reflected in results. After his post-Melbourne slump, Murray ended the best clay-court season of his career by reaching the semi-finals of the French Open and followed up with success on grass at Queen's Club and another run to the last four at Wimbledon.

"Things have been going pretty well the last few months," Murray said. "Since I started working with Darren and Dani together, I haven't really had much time to do a training block or any sort of long period with them because I've been playing tournaments the whole time. Now I've got four weeks after Davis Cup before Montreal. I'll see what I can work on."

While the hurly-burly of mid-season is not the ideal time to be considering his personnel, Murray will need eventually to address his long-term coaching situation. He has clearly gelled with Cahill, but the Australian does not appear to be interested in going back on the road as a permanent travelling coach, and his unavailability during Grand Slam tournaments is unfortunate.

Reaching Grand Slam semi-finals and even finals does not appear to be a problem for Murray (he has played in seven semi-finals, more than any other Briton in the Open era, and made three finals), but clearing those last hurdles has been another matter. He has lost the six biggest matches of his life – three Grand Slam finals and three Wimbledon semi-finals – and won only two sets in doing so.

While Murray relishes being part of a golden age for his sport, there are obvious downsides to competing against two of the greatest players of all time in Nadal and Roger Federer and another, Novak Djokovic, who will tomorrow become the first player other than the big two to lead the world rankings for seven years.

In those six defining matches Murray has lost twice to Federer, twice to Nadal and once to Djokovic; his 2009 Wimbledon semi-final defeat by Andy Roddick was the one occasion when he was beaten by an opponent he will feel he really should have beaten, even if the American went on to push Federer all the way in the final.

Murray has got the better of all the top players away from the very highest stages and has also beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam quarter-final and a semi-final. He has the game, the physical capacity and the mental strength to beat the best, but what he may need now is the guidance of someone who can lead him through the final minefield that leads to a Grand Slam title.

If there was a worrying aspect to Murray's latest defeat it was the way his level dropped so alarmingly after his horrible missed forehand at a crucial stage early in the second set, immediately after which the momentum swung irreversibly in Nadal's favour. Murray is good enough to win Grand Slam titles. If he keeps putting himself in a position to do so, success will surely follow one day. In the meantime he might need a little more assistance.

How Andy can break his duck

1 Cut out mistakes on big points

Murray has said one point does not decide a three-hour match but against Nadal in the second set he missed a sitter for two break points.



2 Find a top coach

Unusually among the top players, he does not have a permanent coach who could be a sounding board and make that fractional difference.



3 Keep on keeping on

He may not be any closer to the top three players, but he has vowed to work harder to bridge the gap.

Steve Tongue

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas