It seems the break up between the world number six Andy Murray and his coach Ivan Lendl was an amicable one as just four days after their parting was announced Murray was cheered on by Lendl during the Sony Open in Miami. Murray even joked that the two were back together after the staunch show of support from his old mentor. The British number one has achieved remarkable success under the guidance of eight time Grand Slam Champion, winning Olympic Gold, the US Open and Wimbledon titles after several previous failed attempts.
Although he would not shed any real light on the reasons behind the parting, he did assure everyone that the decision was a mutual one. In a statement Murray credited Lendl with making a massive difference to his mental ability as a player and claimed that he would be incredibly hard to replace. Murray has gone without a coach for various lengths of time in his career and does not seem to be in any hurry to appoint someone new. However, due to undergoing back surgery Murray missed the last two months of the previous season and has not won a title since his momentous Wimbledon triumph, so the 1000 ranking points are not the only thing he has to defend as he makes his return in Miami.
Despite the high temperature, Murray managed an easy straight sets victory over the Spanish Feliciano Lopez, an opponent he has beaten every time they have met. This was the ninth match in a row going in the Brits favor. The 6-4, 6-1 result is a welcome sign to Murray’s fans that he is starting to find his game after struggling in the earlier rounds and with the ever-present fear of his recurring back injury. Although some might speculate that being cheered on by Lendl was the real reason for the boost in his performance in Miami, it seems more likely that Murray just needed a bit of time to adjust after being out of the game for a little while.
The 32nd seed Lopez did not play particularly well with many unforced errors and a meagre first-serve rate of 40%. Murray commented that Lopez can be difficult to play due to a lack of rhythm and consistency in his performance. However, the Brit was fairly pleased with his overall game and said that, even with the heat and humidity, he felt he moved well and is feeling good.
As the defending champion at the Sony Open, Murray is hoping to retain the title, although he faces some familiar hardships along the way with all top five ranked players posing very real threats to his chances. His next match is likely to be a big test as he will play the popular French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, currently ranked number 11 in the world but a consistent top ten player who has pushed Murray in the past. However, their head to head record is still in Murray’s favor.
The Brit was not the only one to make a fairly straight forward progression into the fourth round in Miami as Federer and Djokovic secured their places with minimal difficulty. Federer will also play a French man in the next round, the ninth seed Richard Gasquet, while Djokovic faces the Spaniard Tommy Robredo. Now into the last 16, the tournament is sizzling from more than just the Miami sun and spectators can look forward to some challenging matches ahead. Given the impressive quality of the contenders he faces, Andy Murray will no doubt be grateful for the effort Ivan Lendl made to show his support by cheering him on in Miami. Unfortunately, it looks as though the Brit will have to rely on other members of his team to hold the pom-pom in the future. He commented that despite this recent reunion, Lendl would be unlikely to watch many more of his matches at the tournament.
Commentary by Rhona Scullion