Lendl: Not enough time to coach
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- He had just stepped off the golf course -- which in the coming months will be a redundant statement -- and Ivan Lendl laughed.
"I am always happy when I am playing golf," the eight-time Grand Slam champion told ESPN.com. "I just finished a tournament up in Kissimmee, which is near Orlando."
Lendl did not reveal his score, but Tuesday he did break his silence regarding his recent break with Andy Murray. Before the Sony Open Tennis, the 26-year-old Scot announced he was parting ways with Lendl after two years of a potent partnership.Murray said the parting was mutual, but it didn't sound that way coming from Lendl. His contract had stipulated he be with Murray for 25 weeks of the tennis season and he exceeded that number in the first year. Because of Murray's back issues, Lendl said, he did not achieve that number last year.
"To really do it right, you need to be there for 20, 25 weeks," Lendl said. "Looking ahead, I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it."
Before Lendl came on board, Murray had played in three Grand Slam singles finals -- and lost them all. He fell in a fourth with Lendl sitting in his box at the All England Club in 2012, just as Lendl had before him.
But it was clear to see that Murray, who has always had a maddening habit of centering the ball under duress, was becoming a more aggressive player. He was trusting his shots and it made him a more formidable opponent.
After losing that 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, Murray came back to win the Olympic gold medal on the same court. And then, later that summer, he took his first Grand Slam singles title, beating Novak Djokovic in five sets -- the kind of match that had previously gone against him.
Last year, Murray got to the final of the Australian Open and, after missing the French Open with back issues, became the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win Wimbledon.
"It was mutual," Murray told reporters here last Thursday. "We went and had dinner. We chatted for an hour about other stuff, and then we chatted about us moving forward. That had been planned for a few weeks.
"Yeah, it wasn't going to happen. The best thing to do was just to move on. You know, it's a tough one for me because he's been a big part of my life. He's been a big part of my team. He made a huge difference to my tennis. So very hard person to replace."
Lendl said he would continue an aggressive golfing schedule this summer and play some senior tennis events, as well. He's also absorbed with his new venture in Hilton Head, S.C., the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy, which provides a range of support for juniors, from psychologists to strength training to coaches. He's also eager to see more of his five daughters, three of who are scratch golfers themselves.
"Of course I feel proud of what we accomplished together," Lendl said. "It worked out for both of us. Unfortunately, I can't give him the time he needs. I must tell you, I'm very happy for Andy."
Murray, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1 in a fourth-round afternoon match, will next play Djokovic in the quarters. They've met in four previous Grand Slam singles finals. Murray's box will be populated by Danny Vallverdu, who has taken on some of Lendl's coaching duties.
And, sources say, there may be a surprise mystery guest for the anticipated Wednesday match.
"Yes," Lendl said. "The tournament here is over. I think I'm going to come down and watch the match. I'm planning to be there. I like watching Andy play."