Andy Murray’s barnstorming rise to world number one men’s singles tennis player has been credited to a reunion that took place in west London’s Queen’s Club. Murray had just endured another heart-wrenching loss to his fiercest rival, the Serb Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros in the French Open final. In fact since linking up with Czech coach and multiple grand slam winner Ivan Lendl, there’s been no stopping the Scot who went on to win an unprecedented fifth title at Queen’s surpassing seven other greats to have won the title four times; Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Roy Emerson, Anthony Wilding, Major J.G. Ritchie.
Next stop Wimbledon, where he clinched the men’s singles trophy for the second time. He would later add a second Olympic gold at Rio and a Davis Cup. His 24-match winning streak which culminated in the Barclays Masters triumph and ATP number one ranking has been described as “pretty amazing” by John McEnroe.
The Queen’s turnaround
The former champion described Murray’s feat in climbing to the top of the world rankings: “He’s been extremely patient, he’s persevered and he’s also gotten better. That combination is hard to do when you’ve been dealt a bunch of blows against three [Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic] of the greatest players who ever lived.
“To come out of that a better player, and a better man it appears, is pretty amazing, so I give him a lot of credit.” McEnroe analyses that Murray’s rejuvenation coincided with reuniting with his erstwhile coach at the traditional pre-Wimbledon tournament at Queen’s. “I sensed something when Ivan came on board again that it gave the little push that Murray needed at that time.
“It was there potentially anyway but the timing was impeccable. All of a sudden he had more of a strut.”It was also at Queen’s that Murray unveiled his former female coach Amelie Mauresmo with whom he would begin his climb back to the summit of the men’s game after dropping out of the world top-ten rankings.
Bumpy road to pinnacle
The normally inscrutable Lendl who betrays little or no emotion when watching Murray expressed his surprise at his charge’s gallop to number one in under six months as he relentlessly clawed back over 8,000 ranking points to leapfrog Djokovic in the season’s finale ATP World Tour showdown at the O2 Arena. “When you play well consistently, number one becomes attainable,” Lendl offers.
“I’m not sure I would have thought it will come this quick. I thought it was a possibility but a little more likely February or March.”
By the time Queen’s comes around again in 2017, Murray could be untouchable in the rankings but he will never forget the decision to bring back a talismanic coach to Baron’s Court. At that fateful realignment of forces, as he put Murray through his paces, Lendl cajoled: “Very good, Andy, very good.”
The dethroned Djokovic agrees with Lendl: “Andy is definitely number one in the world.”