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ANDY MURRAY is creeping ever closer to that elusive grand slam title thanks to the influence of Darren Cahill, insists Greg Rusedski.
The former world No.4 and US Open finalist believes that the Australian coach, who works with the Scot on a part-time basis as part of the Adidas player development programme, has already had a significant positive impact after just over a month.
“In Rome, I saw a massive change when Murray had Cahill sitting in his box watching the match,” said Rusedski. “Andy would get angry but it wouldn’t be in the direction of his team, it would be in the direction of somewhere else.”
Murray has not had a full-time coach since July of last year when he split with Miles Maclagan and 45-year-old Cahill would appear as the perfect fit to be his new full-time mentor. However, his television work and other commitments means it is unlikely, much to Rusedski’s dismay.
“I think Darren would be great as his full-time coach but he is a family man, he lives in Las Vegas and has got his television commitments,” he said. “Murray needs somebody like Cahill. There are probably only five or six coaches in the world that can give you that little extra percentage. That is what Cahill is starting to get through and you can see that by Murray’s strategies.”
The Scot may have lost in the French Open semi-finals to Rafael Nadal but his battling performance won him praise and raised hopes of a successful grass court season. Rusedski was notably impressed by Murray’s aggression in that semi-final and feels his first grand slam victory isn’t far away if he continues to adopt that approach.
“Murray is half a percent away right now and now that he has gotten more aggressive, he is playing better,” said Rusedski. “He is so talented that he can still play the way he is and beat 97 of the top 100 consistently but if he wants to beat the others, then he has to have a consistent approach every day.
“That match against Nadal was a good sign and hopefully he can take that onto Queens, Wimbledon and the American hard court season and believe that is the way he is going to win a major. There is a period of between two and three years right now where he has to knock down the door and it looks as if he is going in the right direction.”
Whilst Rusedski backs Murray to at least reach the semi-final stage again at Wimbledon for the third consecutive year, his favourite to win at SW19 this year is Nadal. “I think Nadal is the favourite after his French Open performance,” he said. “You can’t bet against him. The guy is superb mentally and loses his concentration zero percent of the time. Everybody has a little lapse but Nadal doesn’t.”
This year’s men’s singles draw at Wimbledon will only feature one direct British entrant, Murray, as no other players are ranked high enough to gain a place in the main draw by right. The All England Club will announce today, though, if they are to award any wild cards.
It is a sad indictment of the current state of British tennis but Rusedski is urging the critics to be patient and feels that all will come good in the coming years thanks to a batch of promising juniors, in which he includes 16-year-old Jonny O’Mara from Arbroath.
“I see things getting better,” he said. “You have got a group of juniors who are doing well and showing promise but the key is the transition with these guys.
“When me and Tim Henman were coming up, we didn’t have the same opportunities that there are now so I think we are heading in the right direction and going up.”