When Andy Murray took on Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, the first high profile ATP star to do so, many eyebrows were raised. In fact there were people who believed the Brit had made a huge mistake. Admittedly it did cause discourse in the Murray camp with fitness trainer Jez Green and long term friend Dani Vallverdu both departing after the appointment was made. However, in response to our earlier article criticising the tenure, I think the parternship can go down as a successful two years for Murray.
Sucess on clay
In the nearly two years working together the Frenchwoman has brought improvements into the Murray game. Working his way back up the rankings after the back surgery, Murray fought hard to regain his place in the top four.
The Brit had always struggled on clay, and admitted himself that it was his worst surface. The only usual clay event that the Brit ever went deep in was the French Open, with his best performance pre-Mauresmo being a semi final in 2011. Other than that the furthest ever progressed in Paris was a couple of quarter final spots.
Since the Frenchwoman joined the coaching team, the Brit has made the semi final spot in consecutive years. Barring a fourth round exit at the US Open in 2015 Murray has made the quarter final or better at every slam.
In 2015 the breakthrough on the red dirt was finally made, as Murray claimed not one, but two clay court titles. The first being in Munich where, in a rain delayed final, the Brit claimed the ATP 250 title and reluctantly kept with the tradition of the winner donning laderhosen.
Murray followed this up on the following Sunday (so in the same week) by defeating the King Of Clay Rafael Nadal in Madrid in the ATP 1000 Madrid Masters. In the final Murray needed only straight sets to defeat Nadal who was on his way back from surgery himself. The Brit claimed his first clay masters and now had titles on all four surfaces.
The Brit won the interesting looking trophy and could say that he had beaten Nadal on clay in Spain. Following on from this was the French Open.
Once again, the Brit was hindered by the weather and some very late starts had been involved in Madrid. After winning the second round match in Rome, Murray withdrew citing fatigue. Refreshed for the French Open and the Brit made steady progress to the semi final. Unfortunately for Murray his opponent was the World Number one Novak Djokovic. The match went over two days as a storm threatened late on the first day of the semi. Murray took the Serb to five sets before finally falling.
The Djokovic Problem
Now, some will say that the coaching partnership has not worked as the Brit has not won a Grand Slam since the Frenchwoman came on board. That can hardly be used as a means of coaching success, as excluding the 2015 French Open, which Stan Wawrinka surpringsly won against the Serbian, no one has defeated Djokovic in a slam final.
Whilst Murray was out of action and then recovering from the back surgery, the Serbian continued to improve his game. Everyone else is behind, miles behind the world number one. The Serbian is not invincible however, as Murray has defeated him during the Mauresmo partnership. In a final of a masters event, over the best of three sets.
The Brit has been getting closer again to his rival, fighting hard trying to get the win. Murray knows what is needed to beat Djokovic, as do most of the other players, the problem is getting it done when the Serb is in so much form. Even on a bad day Djokovic can win seemingly without even trying.
The marks of success
What can be taken away from the partnership? Plenty. Murray has defeated Nadal on clay at the same event in back to back years, the first player ever to achieve this. The Brit has regained his world ranking spot of number two (as per liverankins.eu ), won titles on clay, taken the world number one to five sets in Paris. Not forgetting the huge historic victory in bringing the Davis Cup back to Britian. Before anyone mentions the Australian Open 2016, with the events Murray was dealing with off court, it was a great achievement to even reach the final. With his wife expecting their first child, his father in law collapsing in the stands whilst coaching Ana Ivanovic, it was touch and go if he would even stay in the event.
Mauresmo will be missed as part of the team, with everything she has brought to the Brits game and the calming influence around the camp, it is regretful they have parted ways. As a new mother herself, Mauresmo has found the travelling hard to juggle with the coaching, as well as being the French Fed Cup captain, the Frenchwoman wanted more time away than the Brit was willing to accept.