Finding a coach can be as hard as finding your form. Andy Murray admitted in London yesterday that he might have to wait until the summer before appointing a new coach following his parting of the ways with Alex Corretja.
Having failed to win a match since the Australian Open semi-finals, Murray had been hoping to have a replacement in situ before the European clay-court season starts in Monte Carlo next week. Finding the right person, however, is not proving straightforward and Murray has made interim plans to work with the Adidas team of coaches.
As a member of the sportswear company's stable, Murray has free access to some top-class coaching talent, most notably Darren Cahill, who used to work with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, and Sven Groeneveld, whose former charges include Greg Rusedski and Michael Stich.
The only drawbacks are that Cahill is not available during Grand Slam tournaments, when he is commentating for ESPN, and the coaches are not allowed to advise when Adidas stablemates play one another.
"For the short-term, while I'm looking for the right person, I think there'll be some people there that can help me," Murray said at Queen's Club at the announcement of his entry into this summer's Aegon Championships. "They've worked with players in this situation quite a lot before."
Murray split with Miles Maclagan, his full-time coach, last summer. Corretja continued to work with him on a part-time basis, though he did not accompany him to the Australian Open. The world No 4's main collaborator in Melbourne was Dani Vallverdu, a friend who has become a regular member of his entourage. Murray decided to end the arrangement with Corretja after losing badly in Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami in his post-Australia appearances.
However, finding a replacement is proving a challenge. "There aren't that many people with a lot of experience who are willing to give up 30 to 35 weeks of the year travelling and coming to where you're training," Murray said. "There might have to be a bit of sacrifice on my part, to go and train wherever the coach is."
Murray pointed out that a number of top players have coaches who do not travel on a permanent basis, including Paul Annacone, who is on the road with Roger Federer for less than half the year, and Rafael Nadal's uncle, Toni. Murray also noted that a two-coach set-up, like his arrangement with Maclagan and Corretja, can succeed. Federer works with Annacone and Severin Luthi, while Francisco Roig helps Nadal when Toni is not available.
Whoever he appoints, Murray said it would be his decision alone. "I think that's something I need to get better at and maybe haven't been great at the last couple of years," he said.
He is open-minded as to whether he will appoint someone low-profile or high-profile or whether they are an experienced coach or a former player. However, he wants someone who can attend the big events.
"It's easy for a lot of ex-players to say 'Yeah, I'd like to coach him', but it's a big commitment," Murray said. "I don't think you can just dip in and out of big events, spend two weeks with a player and not see them for six weeks. Communicating over the phone in a sport doesn't really work."
Murray believes an experienced coach would be better placed to help on the technical side, while he also wanted someone with whom he could have two-way communication.
"I've heard a lot of people say that I don't listen, but if someone tells you something I think it's OK to question it and ask why," he said. "I spoke to Darren Cahill a lot in Miami and I was saying to him that I think questioning stuff is the way to improve things. He was saying that, as a coach, you can't have a good relationship with a player if you aren't able to ask the player questions and he isn't allowed to ask you questions. I think it's important to have someone you have respect for and someone that doesn't take any crap."
As for his recent form, Murray admitted that he had made a mistake in not getting down to work with a coach in the weeks immediately after Melbourne.
"The night I lost in the final in Melbourne, I had a long conversation with my mum and with Jez Green [one of his fitness team] about what I felt I needed to work on," he said. "I knew the little things that I wanted to improve on, but then it wasn't until maybe four or five weeks afterwards that I spent any time on court working on any of these things. All of a sudden it becomes a bit of a rush."
Nevertheless he believes he will rediscover his form soon. "I've been playing really well in practice, so I'm not panicking that I'm not going to ever play well again," he said. "I'm working hard and getting myself in good shape. It'll come. It might not happen next week, it might not happen in a couple of weeks, but it'll come. I'm not worried about that."Reuse content