The signs were there, but it was finally confirmed that Andy Murray decided to part ways with Amelie Mauresmo after a relatively successful two-year partnership. Murray has never been scared to shake things up when it comes to his coaching team, but who will replace Mauresmo?
Given that Mauresmo gave birth to her first child, Aaron, last summer it’s not a wholly surprising decision. For many, including Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, the writing was on the wall when the former Wimbledon champion didn’t sit in the British number one’s players’ box at the Miami Open.
In a similar vein to Murray’s previous coach, Ivan Lendl, Mauresmo seems to have struggled with the hectic travel schedule that comes with coaching one of the world’s top players. However, it seems on this occasion that the British number one is the instigator of the split, whereas with Lendl it was very much vice-versa. Evidently Mauresmo was struggling to spend the agreed 25 annual weeks with the Murray camp, which the Scot made clear in a recent interview:
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“Since Australia we only spent ten days together, in Miami. For both of us I think if you have two and a half months and you only spend ten days together - and in those ten days I was going through a tough patch in Indian Wells and Miami - it makes things difficult because you need to work your way through those tough times together.”
Although his partnership with Mauresmo wasn’t as fruitful as his time with Lendl, there are certainly positives that the British number one can take away. He climbed from number 11 to number two in the world, won six titles and improved his clay game dramatically.
In fact, Murray’s win percentage, of 79.4, under Mauresmo is better than with any of his other coaches since 2005. Of course, there’s also the small matter of an astonishing Davis Cup victory, but most of the credit for that must go to Leon Smith and the rest of the British team.
Murray has proven to be ground-breaking when it comes to appointing coaches and isn’t scared to try something different. After all, his appointment of Lendl was a catalyst for other players to team up with ex-champions, such as Novak Djokovic with Boris Becker, Roger Federer with Stefan Edberg as well as Milos Raonic with Carlos Moya to name but a few. Hiring Mauresmo was also an unprecedented move as a leading male player had never been coached by a female before.
He has already brought in friend and assistant trainer, Jamie Delgado to work with him for 35 to 40 weeks of the year. However, the world number three has always insisted that spending 25 weeks a year with a head coach was a necessity.
One option, whether it be long term or not, is hiring British Davis Cup captain, Leon Smith. Smith worked with Murray in the infancy of his career, from 1998 to 2004, and clearly has a strong relationship with the British number one. He also joined Murray’s camp in Rome to help him with preparations.
Interestingly enough, Murray has not ruled out appointing another female coach, but whether there is one out there that would be the correct fit is a different question entirely. The most obvious choice would be 59-time Grand Slam champion, Martina Navratilova, who Murray has publicly shared his admiration for in the past.
Navratilova recently expressed an interest in coaching, but was also quick to point out her plethora of other commitments, including worldwide speaking engagements as well as broadcast work with BBC, BT Sport and the Tennis Channel. Moreover, the Czech quit her role as part-time coach for Agnieszka Radwanska after only five months in 2015, stating that she “underestimated the time it would take.”
Similarly, the world number three has stated that he’s open to the possibility of hiring another ex-player. One name that has been batted about is that of John McEnroe. There are certainly similarities between the two given the fiery on-court temperament of both, not to mention that McEnroe has also previously shown an interest in coaching Murray.
It should be highlighted that McEnroe does commentary and analysis for the likes of the BBC and ESPN, but a partnership between him and Murray would be an intriguing one, to say the least.
Conversely, an ideal world would see the Scot revisit the successful relationship he forged with Ivan Lendl. However with Murray’s former coach turning down the chance be part of Grigor Dimitrov’s team last year, a return to coaching seems unlikely for the Czech.
It’s always hard to predict what Murray will do, but one thing’s for sure, finding a top-level coach who is willing to travel will not be an easy task – just ask Lendl and Mauresmo. Murray himself is well aware of the difficulties in finding a top-level coach who is able to be around for 25 weeks of the year.
“A lot of the examples like that, Carlos Moya with Milos Raonic or Michael Chang with Kei Nishikori, they aren't at every single event because they don't want to do it. They just don't want to do it [the travelling] all over again,” said the world number three.
He added: “It isn't easy to find that, especially if you're going for the ex-players that have spent 15, 20 years of their life on the road for 30, 35 weeks a year. They don't always want to do it.”
It appears Murray will wait until after the French Open before trying out the new coach that he hopes can catapult him to a first Grand Slam title since 2013.