Female coaches might soon be as fashionable in tennis as “connected” rackets, with their built-in sensors, and gluten-free diets. When Andy Murray takes on Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday both men will have female coaches watching.
Amélie Mauresmo has been working with Murray since last summer, while Anastasia Kukushkina, a former player, has been with Kukushkin since 2009. The world No 58 liked her so much he married her two years later.
“He’s a good player,” Murray said. “He’s had some big tournaments in the past. I think he played Rafa [Nadal] pretty close here last year. He can play well on the grass. He plays predominantly from the baseline. He’s a good ball-striker. If you give him time to dictate the points, he’s a tough guy to beat.”
Although Murray is in a half of the draw that also contains Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the Scot should be happy with the numbers that Richard Lewis, the All England Club’s chief executive, pulled out of the bag on Friday morning. In the early stages, Murray’s biggest test could be a third-round meeting with Borna Coric, an 18-year-old from Croatia. The youngest player in the world’s top 100, Coric beat Murray in Dubai earlier this year.
While Novak Djokovic cannot meet any of his “Big Four” rivals until the final, the world No 1 faces some tough matches in the opening stages. As defending champion, he will open proceedings on Centre Court on Monday against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, the world No 33. A former quarter-finalist here, Kohlschreiber beat Djokovic at the French Open six years ago.
In the next two rounds Djokovic could meet the 2002 champion, Lleyton Hewitt, who is making his last appearance here before retiring, and Bernard Tomic, whom he beat in the quarter-finals four years ago. Djokovic is seeded to meet Kevin Anderson, who reached the final at Queen’s Club last weekend, in the fourth round. Kei Nishikori, who shocked the Serb in the US Open semi-finals last summer, and the No 4 seed, Stan Wawrinka, are the world No 1’s potential quarter-final and semi-final opponents.
Djokovic is the bookmakers’ favourite, but it remains to be seen whether he has been affected by his surprising defeat by Wawrinka in the final of the French Open.
Murray thinks Wawrinka’s victory may have been “psychologically important” for the men’s tour. He explained: “I remember in Rome earlier in the year, they had a players’ draw outside the locker room and, before the tournament had even started, someone had just written Djokovic’s name in the winner’s space.
“I think obviously a lot of players were thinking that way. Stan winning in the final was a huge upset, but it also showed that Novak can be beaten in those matches. Granted, Stan played an incredible match, but it can be done.”
There are five other British men in the main draw. Aljaz Bedene meets the Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, while Liam Broady takes on Australia’s Marinko Matosevic. James Ward, Kyle Edmund and Brydan Klein all face seeded opponents in David Ferrer, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Andreas Seppi respectively.
Ward expects “a very difficult match” against Ferrer. “When I lived in Spain we played a little bit because we lived not far away from each other so I know him pretty well and I know what to expect,” Ward said. “Can I hurt him on grass? Of course. He’s played well here in the past but if I go out there and play my game, who knows what can happen?”
Jo Konta has been the form player among the British women in Eastbourne but faces a huge first-round task against Maria Sharapova.
“I am looking forward to it and excited to play Maria as I have never played her before,” Konta said. “Because of Sharapova’s profile, the match should hopefully be on a big court. This is what every player in the world dreams of – competing on the big stage, against the best, and it’s even better it’s at home at Wimbledon. I believe in my ability. I have absolutely nothing to lose and I am going to go out there and do everything I can.”
The British No 1, Heather Watson, will face one of the best serves in women’s tennis when she takes on Caroline Garcia, the world No 33. If Watson wins her first two matches she could face Serena Williams in the third round.
The former British No 1, Laura Robson, who is playing her first Grand Slam tournament after 17 months out with a wrist injury, faces Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina, while Naomi Broady meets the Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino.Reuse content