Andy Murray dropped a heavy hint on Sunday that he is preparing for life on Tour without his coach, Amélie Mauresmo, who is due to give birth to her first child in August.
The Scot was as delighted as anyone to hear the news but, ever the pragmatist, he said Jonas Bjorkman will take on a bigger role this summer.
Speaking for the first time since Mauresmo’s surprise announcement – and since his own wedding to his long-time girlfriend Kim Sears – Murray said Bjorkman will play a far more prominent role than initially anticipated, and will take sole charge for the US hard-court season as Mauresmo steps away to prepare for the birth.
“It’s obviously great news for her, she’s extremely happy,” said Murray, who learned the news from Mauresmo shortly after they returned from the Australian Open in early February. “But after Wimbledon, providing everything’s good, I’m going to spend the whole of the hard-court stretch through to the end of the US Open with Jonas. Then I’ll see what happens with Amélie because I don’t know, and I don’t think she knows, what her priorities are going to be and how she wants to deal with things. So we’ll just see for a few months.”
Bjorkman, now freed from his duties on the Swedish version of Strictly, is here with Murray for this week’s BMW Open in Munich and will dovetail with Mauresmo through to next month’s French Open. It is then that Bjorkman, who won three straight Wimbledon doubles titles, will step up. “Jonas will do pretty much all of the grass-court stretch and then potentially Amélie will be there as well, the week before Wimbledon and then Wimbledon as well,” Murray said.
More than happy with how things have gone since he and Mauresmo teamed up last June, Murray will give the former world No1 every chance to return to her role, if she wants to. But having made it clear in the past that he does not enjoy being on the road without a coach, Murray explained that much will depend on how much Mauresmo is able and willing to commit.
“We’ll just see, because it has to work both ways,” he said. “Right now, Amélie does all of the major competitions but if she doesn’t want to do loads of time, I don’t find it beneficial if someone just comes in for the major competitions and doesn’t do any of the training or any of the other events.
“It’s a big process preparing for the major events. So it will be all about how she feels and then timing, and whether it can work out. But no one knows what that’s going to be. Amélie will be the only one that knows and I don’t think right now she knows, because it’s obviously a pretty life-changing thing when you have a child. We’ll see what happens.”
Sporting a shiny-looking wedding ring on his left hand, Murray said he’d had an inkling of what the Frenchwoman was about to tell him. “She told me the day before: ‘I have something personal to talk to you about,’” he said.
“We were actually going to chat about the next couple of weeks, because she wasn’t going to be around. But then I was thinking: ‘Maybe she’s pregnant.’ She wasn’t coming out for dinner in Australia; she normally goes to the gym all the time, she didn’t train once through Australia. When she told me, it was a little bit of a surprise but because she’d kind of pre-warned me that she had something personal to tell me, I kind of expected it a little bit. I hadn’t spoken to her about it and I don’t feel like it’s something she needed to speak to me about.”
Murray said he was confident Bjorkman would have a positive effect. “He’s a very calm guy, he’s not in your face, but when he talks you listen,” the world No3 said.
“Sometimes if someone talks all the time you don’t listen to most of the stuff. But when he talks you listen to him. He’s got a very nice way about him, he’s easy-going. But he was mentally very strong and had a great work ethic as well, so hopefully that can rub off on me and the team as well.”
One thing Bjorkman can’t help Murray with is his wedding ring, specifically the matter of whether he wears it during matches. “I might wear it on a necklace, but the necklace I got broke the first day I got it,” he said, smiling. “I was on a physio bed and it got caught, just snapped off. I can’t play with it [on his finger], because it gives me blisters.”
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