The day Murray broke Britain’s curse and Lendl ‘almost smiled’

Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title beating Djokovic.

Written by New York Times | New York | Published:September 11, 2012 10:18 pm

After years of chasing the lead group of Roger Federer,Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic,Andy Murray joined their golden-age club in earnest on a blustery Monday afternoon that turned into a chilly Monday night at the US Open.

Murray won his first Grand Slam title beating Djokovic,his boyhood and adulthood rival,never allowing himself to exit the monumental match emotionally or mentally as he made his way to a 7-6 (10),7-5,2-6,3-6,6-2 win. In the process,he became the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry took Wimbledon and the US Championships in 1936.

Nine months after linking up as coach and ward,Ivan Lendl and Murray have something in common — players who ended their Grand Slam final losing streaks on the fifth attempt.

Lendl went on to win eight major singles titles after snapping his streak at the 1984 French Open.

Murray lost the 2010 Australian Open final to Federer,the 2011 Australian Open final to Djokovic and this year’s Wimbledon final to Federer. He had also lost the 2008 US Open final to Federer.

“That’s why I came on board,to help Andy win,” Lendl said on Monday night. “With the Olympics,he already had won a big one in my mind. It’s maybe more difficult to win than the others because you have one chance in four years and here you have four chances in one year,” Lendl said.

Murray did it in his fifth final,just like Lendl,hred to help him clear the hurdle this year and who certainly was more delighted than he looked in the stands when it happened.

“I think that was almost a smile,” Murray joked in the victory ceremony. “Smiles are overrated,” Lendl later joked right back.

So it goes between the two baseliners from different generations. “His sense of humour may be as sick as mine,” Lendl,52,said.

Wherever their banter and relationship goes,there can be little doubt now that hiring Lendl,the Czech-born American,who had never coached a professional player,was the right move.

“I believed from the beginning,” Lendl said. “Whether it helped him to believe because I believed,you’d have to ask Andy.”

The opportunity to ask Murray came soon after that. “I think he definitely helped,that’s for sure,” Murray said. “It’s hard to say in terms of a percentage how much difference he will have made. There was a lot of people around the middle part of this year who didn’t think that it was working well,and I wasn’t learning from him,that it wasn’t just,you know,a good situation. But I have enjoyed working with him. I have listened to him a lot. He’s definitely,definitely helped. Having him in your corner for any player would be a big bonus.”

Lendl said he was approached by “close to 10” players in the past but it was Murray who brought him back into the professional game. “I’m sure it gave a little boost to his ego tonight,after just sort of nine months with him,” Murray said,sparking laughter.

Lendl saw the talent and the opportunity and,above all,the work ethic. “Hard work,he’s not afraid of it,” Lendl said. “I knew I was going to enjoy working with Andy. That’s why we met so many times,three or four times before we talked about it. So I can really understand what he’s looking for,and I can show him what I can try to help him with and how I would like to go about things and so on and so on. To make sure we are on the same page because if we weren’t going to be on the same page,it would be painful for both of us.”

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