Men's Tennis: Ivan Lendl Offers to Help Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic Cruises
Several pieces of tennis news struck the minds of the fans today. The press intimation of Ivan Lendl that he would consider seriously lending some coaching aid to Andy Murray and the continued, fearsome progress of Novak Djokovic, as he clocked his 20th-straight win this season.
There were, however, other equally eyebrow-raising results—not least of which was probably Juan Martin Del Potro's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Robin Soderling. It was a match that promised much and in fact, probably did serve quite what it was supposed to serve, in that it just utterly legitimised the comeback of the Argentine.
Much had been made of the Delpo's return to the tour, and everyone knew that the big splash wouldn't really be made before he earned a big win. Soderling, however, was the big win, and to beat someone with such an unbeatable serve and the loss of only five games—rather an embarrassing scoreline on the Swede's part—is quite noteworthy, whatever the humidity in Miami.
Juan Martin Del Potro has certainly returned.
Something of a slightly more tangential nature was Lendl's interesting offer of coaching help to Andy Murray, just days after the Scot's third-straight defeat, at a third-straight tournament.
Surely, Murray has been struggling, but beyond the fact that he is coachless for the moment (which might actually explain some of his nonchalance on court nowadays), how would the former Czech turned American fit into the picture?
Well, for one thing, he is a great example of a tennis champion whose achievements have generally outshone his disappointments—with whose example Murray might well be able to relate to.
Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam finals and was close to losing a fifth straight (against McEnroe in 1984 at the French), before he got over everything and decided to really go for it.
Little is made of Lendl's career nowadays, but it was certainly a very fine one. The all-time No. 3 for weeks at No. 1, a 19-time Grand Slam finalist, of which eight came out well—three Frenchs, three US Opens and two Australian Opens.
Moreover, he too was a power baseliner, albeit probably quite unlike Murray as to his use of the baseline. While Murray would come across as more an artist, as opposed to the machine-like efficiency that Lendl represented.
Coaches don't, after all, have to make their proteges play like themselves. The bottom line is, Lendl can empathise with Murray, and any psychological backup at this point would be great for Murray.
Finally, Novak Djokovic just doesn't seem to stop.
He crushed James Blake today, in a terrifying exhibition of the superiority of high topspun aggressive groundies against classic, full-one flat forehands. Blake just couldn't get anything past Djokovic, his famous forehand tame against the relentless surge.
Blake nearly came to a point when he couldn't get a game in. Indeed, he would only win two, in a 6-2, 6-0 demolition.
It is Djokovic's fourth match featuring a bagel, in eight matches. Up next is another bagel beatdown victim, Victor Troicki. He handed his fellow countryman last week a bagel and breadstick and would look to do so again.
Djokovic is renown for falling in stifling, humid conditions but so far, has been unaffected. He seems to be playing out of his mind and producing scorelines that were previously unthinkable for him.
There seems nothing that he can't do at the moment; if I were Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer, I would be worried.
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