LONDON— Andy Murray dedicated his historic Wimbledon triumph to coach Ivan Lendl, the Czech who won eight Grand Slam titles but never cracked the mysteries of the All England Club.
Since Murray teamed up with Lendl in 2012, he has won the Olympics, clinched a first major with his US Open triumph before becoming Britain’s first men’s singles champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 with his 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 win over world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
One of the first men that Murray celebrated with up in the players box was the 53-year-old Czech who was a Wimbledon runner-up against Boris Becker in 1986 and Pat Cash the following year.
Lendl was also a semi-finalist on four occasions.
“He just said that he was proud of me, which obviously coming from him means a lot. He doesn’t smile in public too much, but when he’s away from the crowds and the cameras he’s a very different character,” said Murray of Lendl.
“I just think for him, obviously ideally he would have won it himself, but I think this was the next best thing for him. I’m saying it seriously.”
“He believed in me when a lot of people didn’t. He stuck by me through some tough losses the last couple of years. He’s been very patient with me. I’m just happy I managed to do it for him.”
Murray, 26, said that the arrival of Lendl has helped mature him both on and off the court with the Czech adding crucial tweaks to his game rather than insisting on a major overhaul.
It has had the desired effect for a player who lost his first four Grand Slam finals— at the 2008 US Open, the 2010 and 2011 Australian Opens and his tearful defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final last year.
“He’s made me learn more from the losses that I’ve had than maybe I did in the past. I think he’s always been very honest with me. He’s always told me exactly what he thought,” said Murray.
“And in tennis, it’s not always that easy to do in a player/coach relationship. The player is sometimes the one in charge. I think sometimes coaches are not always that comfortable doing that. But he’s been extremely honest with me.
“If I work hard, he’s happy. If I don’t, he’s disappointed, and he’ll tell me. Last year after the final he told me he was proud of the way I played because I went for it when I had chances. It was the first time I played like that in a Grand Slam final.”
Interestingly, Murray’s first reaction on winning the title on a fourth match point after a nerve-shredding 10th game in the final set, was to turn to the press box in the corner directly opposite to where his family was seated.
“I was staring in the direction of quite a few of the guys in the press. I’ve had a difficult relationship at times over the years. The last few years have been much better,” he explained.
“I know for you guys it’s important that I win this tournament. I tried my best. I worked as hard as I could to do it.”