Opposites attract, so Andy Murray and John McEnroe should make a good fit

"When you get opportunities to coach great players, it is definitely something that would be tempting to think about,” McEnroe said last week.
John McEnroe, left, and Andy Murray look on during the BNP Paribas Showdown press conference at Essex House on March 3, 2014 in New York City. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images
John McEnroe, left, and Andy Murray look on during the BNP Paribas Showdown press conference at Essex House on March 3, 2014 in New York City. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Andy Murray is considering John McEnroe as his next coach? You cannot be serious!

With his year-round commitments as an analyst on TV and one of the stars of the seniors tour, it is a surprise that McEnroe would have the time, or the enthusiasm, for a coaching assignment. But the American certainly thinks so.

“I am pretty busy doing my own thing, but when you get opportunities to coach great players, it is definitely something that would be tempting to think about,” McEnroe said last week.

Asked, more specifically, if he would consider working with Murray, the seven-time grand slam singles winner replied: “Yes, of course.”

Murray, who has been without a coach since splitting with Ivan Lendl in March, was thrilled to hear that.

“Obviously when someone like that shows an interest, you have to take that into consideration because he is a great tennis player,” he told BBC Sport. “I speak to him [McEnroe] a lot around tournaments. I have always got on well with him and he has always said nice things to me and about me.

“He was a great player and he’s always kept an interest in the game, which is important. He obviously has a lot to offer. It is interesting – whether anything comes from it, who knows?”

Murray is not in a rush to pick Lendl’s successor, but if he does manage to bring McEnroe on board, there could be some exciting times ahead. It could even be a culture shock for the Scot, for you cannot pick two tennis personalities more disparate than the two former world No 1s.

Bitter rivals in the 1980s, McEnroe and Lendl were defined as the archetypal enemies, with the dark shadow of the Cold War looming large. McEnroe was the combustible, American brat, Lendl was the cold, robotic Czech.

They also loved to hate each other, so much so that Lendl once deliberately drilled a shot straight into McEnroe from point-blank range and did not even bother to apologise.

In an interview with Esquire magazine in 1987, McEnroe said: “The guy [Lendl] hasn’t been good for tennis, and he’s certainly not the kind of guy who brings out the best in others. He’s hurt the popularity of the game so much … Do you like a robot being No 1?”

With age mellowing the two, they seem to have buried the hatchet, but McEnroe still could not resist taking a dig at his old adversary in an interview with the Independent newspaper a couple of years ago, after Lendl had joined Murray’s team.

“A guy that I work with showed me an article, which said Ivan had come in and brought a sense of humour and that he’s a lot more fun than Andy,” McEnroe said. “I’m like: ‘My God, man! What has Andy been doing?’.”

Should McEnroe start working with Murray, he might be asking the same question. Murray, with his stoic demeanour, will keep reminding the American of his nemesis.

arizvi@thenational.ae

Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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