Two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray is prepared to begin a new chapter in his tennis career.
According to The Times' Neil Harman, the world No. 6 will end his coaching relationship with former tennis great Ivan Lendl:
Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl to end their coaching relationship.— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) March 19, 2014
Lendl confirmed the breakup and announced plans for the future, per BBC's Staff:
"Working with Andy over the last two years has been a fantastic experience. He is a first-class guy," said Lendl.
"Having helped him achieve his goal of winning major titles, I feel like it is time for me to concentrate on some of my own projects moving forward including playing more events around the world which I am really enjoying.
"I will always be in Andy's corner and wish him nothing but great success as he too goes into a new phase of his career."
BBC's Staff also provided a statement from Murray. "I'm eternally grateful to Ivan for all his hard work. We've learned a lot as a team and it will be of benefit in the future," said Murray.
It remains to be seen whether there are other factors in play, but there's no doubt that Murray blossomed under Lendl's watchful eye.
Murray and Lendl teamed up at the start of 2012, and over the past two-plus years, the Scotsman has won an Olympic gold medal, broken through at a major—winning the 2012 U.S. Open—and became the first homegrown talent to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Coming off back surgery last fall and set to turn 27 this May, Murray is slowly working his way back into top form. He's yet to win a title in 2014 and is still looking for his first berth in a tournament final.
Now, the pressure to win will only be compounded by his coaching transition.
There's no doubt that the 54-year-old Lendl, a former world No. 1 is a tough-minded man and an intense coach, but his wisdom brought the best out of Murray's game. And now his departure is sure to create questions about Murray's ability to get back to the level he was at a year ago when he won four singles titles.
As The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell explains, Lendl demands perfection from Murray and isn't afraid to challenge him:
Ivan Lendl is as obdurate a coach as he was a player, giving away nothing but a stare that defies scrutiny...Lendl is addicted to perfection. He demands it from Murray and Murray demands no less from himself.
Whatever direction Murray decides to go in with his next coaching hire, expectations moving forward will be lofty.
Murray can relieve some of that pressure by defending his Sony Open Tennis title in Miami this March. But with a stacked field of contenders in his path and his stone-faced leader no longer in his box, Murray will have an awful lot to overcome as he prepares for the next chapter of his career.
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