Fetching bananas, booking courts, arranging restrings and keeping the player’s box warm. Some days, that’s about all there is to being coach for a professional tennis player.
Not when it came to Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray, however. Theirs was a far more intellectual relationship, with Lendl providing the psychological backbone that his Scottish charge so desperately needed.
Now that the two men have parted ways, who will Murray’s next appointment be? Does he want another former champ? A tried and tested coach who will remain in the background? A young chap who will bond with him on the tour? Or a complete unknown?
Here are the possibilities…
THE TRIED AND TESTED COACH
Paul Annacone: he’s certainly got the pedigree – he helped Sampras, Henman and Federer at crucial points in their careers. He may currently be working with WTA up-and-comer Sloane Stephens, however, her lackadaisical attitude to matches might precipitate an early split.
Darren Cahill: many pundits thought this Australian would beat Lendl to the job a couple of years ago. His current media commitments may not allow him to travel as much as Murray would like, however. He has advised Murray in the past which means the Scot may not wish to revive the relationship.
Leon Smith: Great Britain’s current Davis Cup captain used to coach Murray during his teenage years. The British Lawn Tennis Association, for which he works as head of men’s tennis, would probably offer to cover Smith’s coaching bill if it meant a guaranteed Murray in the GB Davis Cup team.
Marian Vajda: Djokovic’s former main coach has been sidelined ever since the arrival of Boris Becker in the Serbian’s entourage. He’s now no doubt looking for more of a starring role.
Roger Rasheed: currently coaching Grigor Dimitrov, this Australian also has a good track record with Hewitt, Monfils and Tsonga. Can he tame Murray’s psyche, though?
Bob Brett: this Aussie has loads of experience but Muzzer may see the 60-something as a bit old school.
Alex Corretja: the Spaniard has advised Murray in the past. Dull but reliable.
Javier Piles: the Spaniard worked with David Ferrer for 15 years to great effect but never engineered a Grand Slam win. And what about the surname? “Murray’s has Piles in his box,” snigger the headline writers at Wimbledon. Sounds painful.
THE STAR COACH
John McEnroe: Muzzer obviously likes his coach to be of star quality, and McEnroe has triumphed in just one fewer Grand Slams (7) than Lendl (8). With trophy coaches in the players’ box all the rage (Djokovic has Becker, Federer has Edberg, Nishikori has Chang, Sharapova had Connors), Super Mac would be a neat fit. And the old motormouth certainly wouldn't hold back from saying exactly what he thought of his charge’s performances.
Andre Agassi: if the job simply meant prettifying the player’s box at the Grand Slams, the old wig-wearer might be up for it. But he’s unlikely to commit to a more demanding travelling schedule.
Mats Wilander: he’s successful (7 Grand Slam wins), he’s incisive (his match commentary is impressive), he’s got glamour (married to a hot model) and he’s down with the people (he sometimes travels round the States offering tennis lessons to anyone who asks). Having coached the errant Marat Safin, he’d probably find Murray a breeze.
Jimmy Connors: he lasted just a few hours with Maria Sharapova. Could he really put up with Murray’s quirky habits? Unlikely.
COACHES CLOSER TO HOME
Judy Murray: why not? She knows her son’s game and his inner psyche inside out, and is of course responsible for his formative years. And she sits in the player’s box for key matches anyway. It would save the family a lot of money in airfares and hotel bills.
Dani Vallverdu: Lendl’s assistant coach (for that, read errand boy), this Venezuelan is young, keen and great mates with Murray. He’s been the Scot’s hitting partner for years (they first met at their academy in Spain) but his professional experience is pretty much limited to Futures and low-level Davis Cup.
Bjorn Borg: he has the experience, the glory (11 Grand Slams) and the star quality. He knows coaching about as well as he knows coach class, but the Ice Borg, as he used to be known, would certainly keep Murray calm.
Steffi Graf: Billie Jean King has moaned that not enough top players use female coaches. Well, Andy, here’s your chance. Why not hire the winner of 22 Grand Slams to sit in your corner?
Plenty of top players compete at the elite level without any official coach. Murray himself even did it for a while. His only problem is that he tends to criticise himself too much when things go wrong.
Whoever Murray appoints, it most likely won't be in time for the French Open, where he is seventh favourite to win overall at 25.00.
But it would be good to have support during his Wimbledon campaign, where he is second favourite behind Novak Djokovic at 4.00.