Lendl the right man to lead Murray to glory: Roche
Perth: Andy Murray`s new coach Ivan Lendl is a grossly misunderstood character who will break the mould of great players being pitiful coaches, the Czech-born eight-time major winner`s former mentor Tony Roche said on Sunday.
"I`ve got to say it`s a really good move from Andy, an especially good move," Roche said at the Hopman Cup when asked about the man hired to orchestrate the world number four`s tilt at a breakthrough major championship this year.
"Anyone who knows Ivan will tell you how much he`s going to bring to the table for Andy. Few people in our sport have ever trained as hard as Ivan or been as professional," Roche added.
"All the things his career was based on, like working hard and being meticulous with preparation and execution and that ability he had to concentrate on what was in front of him for hours on end, will rub off on Andy."
Roche firmly believes Lendl`s work ethic will have nothing but a positive effect on the talented Scot.
"Ivan was always looking for the edge, even in the smallest ways, and now he`ll be doing it on Andy`s behalf. Whether it was the way he trained, tinkering with his equipment, getting his diet right," the 66-year-old Australian added.
"I mean, Ivan and Martina Navratilova were the two players in the 1980s who took the game to another level in terms of professionalism. He`s always been one of the great students of the game so I`m pretty sure Andy has struck a bit of gold here."
Roche spent eight years with Lendl, who became a U.S. citizen in 1992, before guiding the careers of three other world number ones in Pat Rafter, Roger Federer and his current charge Lleyton Hewitt.
The man from Wagga Wagga said Lendl`s real persona was far removed from his image of being some sort of emotionless machine and his return to the spotlight after keeping a low profile since his retirement in 1994 was great news for tennis.
"Ivan is back in tennis and that is fantastic for our sport," Roche said.
"I mean, he was just a giant of the game. He didn`t want anything to do with it for 15 years. I`m happy he`s back for Andy`s sake and also our sport`s.”
"People have always had the wrong impression of him. First of all, he`s a very intelligent guy, very smart about tennis but just very intelligent in general.”
"He`s a fun guy, you know, great company, someone who was completely different to the person you saw on the court. That was his office between those lines and he went out there with a job to do.”
"No-one could knock his record as a player but I don`t think the media ever really wanted to get to know the other side of him."
A common theme in tennis is that great players have not gone on to be as comparably successful as a coach.
Jimmy Connors` brief run with fellow American Andy Roddick had its moments but the most successful mentors of the modern era have been the journeymen players such Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill.
Roche himself only won one singles major, the 1966 French Open.
"There is that trend but I`ve got no doubt Ivan will be a superb and successful coach," Roche said.
"Being the student of the game that he is, being such a switched-on and motivated guy, the way he worked on his game as a player, the way he prepared himself, all of that knowledge and experience is in Andy`s corner now.
"That`s not to say Andy hasn`t been working his backside off already and putting in the hard yards but I think Ivan is going to add another dimension."
Murray has suffered the frustration of losing all three of the major finals he has contested in an era dominated by three of the greatest players of all time: Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Lendl lost his first four grand slam finals before going on to win eight major titles and hold the world number one ranking for 270 weeks.
He and Murray`s first campaign together will be at the Australian Open in Melbourne from January 16.