Andy Murray joins Tennis Podcast
Andy Murray has enjoyed having new coach Ivan Lendl on his team this year
Winning a Grand Slam title is a top goal, but there's more to a career than that
The world No. 4 also talks boxing, pranks, paparazzi, rivals and much more
|SI Inside Tennis Podcast|
|World No. 4 Andy Murray joins Jon Wertheim to talk about chasing his first Slam, dealing with paparazzi, his love for boxing and much more.|
SI.com's Jon Wertheim sat down with Andy Murray for the latest edition of the Inside Tennis Podcast. From the back of the player's lounge at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., the refreshingly candid world No. 4 discussed his time with new coach/expert prankster Ivan Lendl, his dramatically different on- and off-court demeanors, his speedy recovery after a tough loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, his continued quest for his first Grand Slam title and much more. Below are some highlights from the interview, but he covers so much more that it's worth the 40 minutes to listen. You can subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes, listen to it directly here (it's also embedded below) and check out the rest of the SI Inside Tennis Podcasts here.
Jon Wertheim: You've always seemed to really have a fondness for the U.S. You seem to like it here?
Andy Murray: Yeah, I always really liked the people. The first time I came over I started liking New York because of the way the juniors got treated. I loved the U.S. Open. They treated the juniors really, really well. The first time I stayed in a really nice hotel was during the U.S. Open juniors. I love the night matches. I went and watched a couple of them sitting right at the top of the stands. I remember watching [Kim] Clijsters and [Justine] Henin in the final of the U.S. Open. ... I love that, when I started coming back and spending more time here, I found the people really upbeat and positive and friendly. I like that because it's not like that everywhere we go in the world.
The people are more sort of reserved [in the U.K.]. You know if you're walking down the street and say "hi" to someone, it's sort of a bit awkward. Whereas here, you can say "hi" to people and everyone is sort of like, "Hey, how's it going?" I just find people are really positive here and a bit more open.
When you come here, you're in Miami, are you getting recognized?
In Miami more than probably any other city in the States. I think it's more because there's a lot of South Americans here. Tennis is massive in South America, and in Florida they do like their tennis. There's a lot of tennis clubs.
Do you have to build up mentally for that sort of attention, where guys and paparazzi are leaning out of windows to take pictures of you?
I'm not really into that stuff. I know a lot of people that are. I don't really get it. Now it's actually much less. I think if you live kind of a normal life and aren't out doing stupid things like falling out of night clubs with no pants on, after a while the paparazzi lose interest. I'm pretty much going home, walking my dogs, practicing. Still, around Wimbledon time, it's different than the rest of the year. I have TV crews calling my house phone early in the morning. Mornings of big matches, you're getting followed. It doesn't help, and in the U.K. I don't think we really do that good a job with it. If you want your sports teams and athletes to be successful, you don't really want to be throwing them off their stride in the most important moments. And when you lose, they'll be like, "Oh, you're useless, you don't ever win anything." So at least [they should] try to help while we're in the event.
There's a rumor going around you have a new coach. Six months ago, what's your relationship [with Ivan Lendl]?
I started working with Ivan at the end of December, start of January. At the end of last year, I had a good year, played well in all of the major events, pretty much. The last few weeks of the year I had a few injuries and stuff I was a bit annoyed and disappointed about, so I didn't finish maybe as I would have liked. But then I sat down with guys I work with, said I felt like I needed something extra. Spoke to Darren Cahill to see if there was any extra weeks that he could do with me. He couldn't, so I needed to find someone else. Ivan was the first person that I called. I met up with him when I was training here, a couple of times. Went on the court with him once, and that was it. I knew pretty much after the second time I met with him he was the guy I wanted to work with and it's been good since.
Was it just the presence? Or having a guy you're really not going to want to disappoint?
Yeah, there's all of that stuff. He obviously has got the experience. He went through a lot of the same experiences that I've gone through, at the start of his career, that helped. So he understood me from that point of view. He also was very open to help from others. A lot of ex-players and people that I spoke to think they can come in and work with you for 10 weeks and they don't need any other help, and they can tell you what to do and it's going to be fine. Whereas he was like, "I've never coached before, and I'm going to need some help in that department. I'd still like someone to be involved that's done some coaching before that I can speak to." That was really refreshing. He's also ... you might think he's very stubborn, but he's so open-minded to testing things and trying things out. When he played, he used to practice with [John] McEnroe's racket and [Jimmy] Connors' racket to see what those rackets could do. The things he found difficult with them, to see what things he would and wouldn't like. ... When you realize the lengths he would go to, just to try to get any edge, that was very interesting.
He's also a very funny guy when you get to know him.
You gotta give specifics on that.
The problem is, his jokes are so borderline acceptable that there's probably none that I could really tell. He just loves pranks, and he's decided to pick on my physio. They have sort of weird relationship developing. ... We started putting weights from the gyms in people's bags, so that when you got home, "You know, my bag did feel a bit heavy today." ... Most of the guys we work with we've been doing pranks for a while, so he fits right in like that.
We always talk about motivation with players. What really is your motivation at this point?
I know a lot of athletes who say money is not the most important thing. Honestly, never do people say, "If I were playing in the semis or final of a Slam," in no way at any stage are you thinking, "If I win this match, it's worth this much money." The thing that makes me nervous is the winning, being part of history. That's what I play for. I don't know if that's what everybody plays for. But I'm sure if you ask Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer], Novak [Djokovic], what makes them nervous is the history of being part of such a huge match. The Grand Slams mean so much now. I think they've become such a big part of the sporting calendar, not just in tennis. They've become a huge deal over the last few years. All of the guys are playing all of the events. Even when Ivan played, guys missed a lot of Slams. ... That doesn't happen anymore. That's what motivates me, the Slams. That's what I train hard for and that's what gets me pumped.
What does that do for the other 44 weeks of the year?
I think it depends how you approach it. I got in trouble before for saying I was using a tournament as preparation for a Grand Slam, which is kind of what you play for. But I've also taken criticism for, you know if I win a tournament like here in Miami, everyone will say to me, "Whatever, he's not won a Slam." But if I lose in the first round here, they'll say, "Oh, whatever, he's not one of the top guys because he's losing early." These tournaments are very important for the rankings. If you want to be No. 1 in the world, you have to play well in these events. But the Slams are what excite me the most in tennis. That's what I work hard for, that's why I train over here away from friends and family so that I can give myself the best opportunity to play well in the Slams.
Do you feel like yourself on the court? Or are you totally in the moment and in a special moment?
It's very different. ... When you're at work, you're pretty much focused and just trying to get your job done. ... There's pressure and stress and whatnot. That's why sometimes you get pissed off on the court, or you might act differently to how you would if you were in a day-to-day situation. ... Sometimes there's certain things you can't stop. The moment becomes ... there's so much pressure. You can get so pumped up or really angry. That's something I've been working on, to make sure I stay more levelheaded throughout the whole match. I never get angry off the court. That's maybe something I should try, to [let out] more anger off the court. I think I'm in quite good position rather than most people because a lot of people say, "Oh, this guy is so grumpy.' A lot of people say, "Oh, I didn't think you'd be like that when I met you."
You think you have one rival, three rivals, or no rivals? Or 147 rivals?
Yeah, there's a lot of rivals. But Rafa and Novak are probably my main rivals because of the age, the amount of times I've played against them, the amount of times I'm probably likely to play against them. Roger I've played against a lot as well, but probably those two I view as being my main rivals.
It's funny, I used to practice with Rafa a lot. We had some unbelievable practices. I would have loved to have watched some videos of some of the practices we had. I've lost some tough matches, and not every match I've played against him has been ultra-close, but I've played matches against him that have been very, very close as well. We always seem to play, normally, good tennis against each other. I also practice with Novak a lot, but the intensity in the practice isn't quite the same as it is with Rafa. But I tried to avoid all that in the last year or so.
After Australia, where were you at? What was your attitude?
Actually, compared with how I was the previous year, even though I got to the final [in 2011], it was night and day. I felt much better. Kind of because of what I'd given to the match, and also there's a lot more than just the tournament itself that goes into the Australian Open. There's the whole offseason and the training you do to get ready for it. ... It was such a close a match [against Djokovic this year], came down to one or two points. Whereas  was the opposite. It was three sets, it was quick. After the first set, it wasn't that competitive, I was doubting myself. After Australia this year, it was different. I could have won it, for sure. Novak had hardly lost a match. In the Slams he's been so good the last couple of years that it wasn't devastating.
Last year, if people knew the year he was going to have before the Australian Open, it wouldn't have looked like such a bad loss. But at the time, it looked like a really bad loss and that was my best chance at winning a Slam up to that point. That's why it was really, really disappointing because it wasn't close. This time it was closer. I played really well and I'd fought and given everything I could have done and I could have won too. So I wasn't as down. Also coming away here, to train with Ivan, looking forward rather than sitting back home thinking about what happened in Australia. I was back on the practice court much quicker working hard and that made me feel better.
I feel like you've been so simplified by the media and the average fan. Is that how you ultimately see your career, by whether you can win a Slam?
I haven't thought about finishing my career without winning a Slam, yet [laughing]. It would purely depend on how you view tennis. If people agree that right now is the best era in men's tennis -- which I don't know if it is but I get asked about it almost every week. A lot of people are saying the matches are such high quality, and the consistency of the top players is great in such a deep era. If people are saying I haven't fulfilled my potential, I'm No. 4 in the world, and the only guys that are in front of me are the three of the best players ever, then, well, I must be pretty good then.
And also, if you view it purely on winning Grand Slams, then yeah, I couldn't be viewed in the same conversation as guys who have won even one or two Slams. But there are guys that have won a few Slams that I think that if I were playing in their time, possibly I could have won a few Slams. So, it depends if you purely look at it like that, then yeah, you can simplify it like that and say, "Yeah, unless you win a Slam, you can't be a great player." But, like I say, I haven't actually sat down and thought ... But if I finish tennis having never won a Slam, I would probably, myself, view that as a failure, because that's pretty much what I've worked toward. But if I think back to when I was a child, growing up playing tennis in Scotland where there had never been a tennis player to come from Scotland ever ...
Yeah, that's what I meant by motivation. Big picture?
In the grand scheme of things, 100 percent if I stopped today I would have signed up for the career I've had. But no, when you're in that position, you have to look at things and say, "I can't imagine finishing tennis without winning a Grand Slam." But you never know.