Amélie Mauresmo prefers not to talk about Andy Murray’s sore right shoulder but, on the eve of his eighth-straight Wimbledon quarter-final, she is happy to confirm he is in far better shape than when he lost so abjectly to Grigor Dimitrov at the same stage a year ago.
Murray still has to tape the shoulder – which required courtside treatment after it gave up on him with exquisite timing in his tense match against Andreas Seppi on Saturday – and hopes he can ramp up the power on his serve against the Canadian Vasek Pospisil on Wednesday. Apart from that passing concern, all is serenity and confidence in a camp that was in a state of flux this time 12 months ago.
Mauresmo and Murray could hardly be getting on better after a year together. Heavily pregnant and due to return to Paris after these championships, she will leave Murray in the care of Jonas Bjorkman for the rest of the season and, almost certainly, the Australian Open in January. But she sees no cause for concern. “A lot of things [are better than last year]. For him, on the court, feeling fit and thanks to the medical part of the team, the teamwork has been going well,” Mauresmo said. “When you feel strong physically on court then you are capable of using all your tools out there. For a guy like Andy it makes a big difference. I like the relationship that we have. I would not have stayed around if the human part of the relationship wasn’t going to be good. I would also not stay around if the results were not good or if he wasn’t happy with that.”
She added: “I’m happy because he is such a hard worker. Since we met again in December in Miami, he has put in so much effort in his daily practice, recovery, food, whatever you can think of. He’s a great guy to work with.”
It was during that training block that Mauresmo experienced her first bouts of morning sickness. “December and January were a bit tough for me, let’s put it that way,” she said. “I don’t think he [Murray] noticed anything. You feel more tired, definitely, but it was a big challenge. Dani [Vallverdu, his long-time assistant, who is now with Tomas Berdych] had left the team and it was just me. We had not yet found someone to share the time, so basically you have no choice. I hit with him at the French Open a little bit.”
So, what of the pressure of motherhood, her commitment to Murray and the travelling involved? “It’s too hard for me to say now. There are too many unknowns. I’m taking it as it comes and I’ll know more in a few months. I don’t know what to tell you.”
She is certain, though, of Murray’s preparedness for the remaining matches of Wimbledon, secured in the most trying of circumstances in his four-set victory over the 6ft 11in Croat Ivo Karlovic on Monday. “I think he did great. He handled many different moments in the match in a very good way,” she said. “The focus and the concentration that you need to have against this guy are very high and he did that very well. Also the physical intensity was great.”
And what of Pospisil, who comes to the match after three five-setters in a row, as well as a doubles match against Andy’s brother, Jamie, that ended in defeat after three hours and 19 minutes? “Although it’s the first time for him at this level of a tournament, I think he’s going to go out there and have nothing to lose and just go for his shots. He’s a big guy, he can release big shots on the serve and on the forehand. He can come forward as well, good at the net. He’s a pretty consistent overall player. This one needs to be taken very seriously.”
Of Murray’s many fine qualities, the one to shine through here has been his versatility in dealing with four opponents of vastly contrasting styles. Mauresmo recognises that strength and says she, Murray and Bjorkman combine in working out a strategy for each occasion: “Andy has pretty much everything in his game. As coaches, that’s pretty nice. It’s a privilege.”
When the last ball is struck, she will go home to Paris and Murray will take the short drive back to Oxshott. “He’s at home and after the job is done we all go our separate ways. Which is what he did all the time with Ivan [Lendl], including tournaments other than here,” Mauresmo said. “We are spending more time together and that’s the nice part.”
How times change: Dimitrov, who lost here to Richard Gasquet on Saturday, has announced he is parting company with his coach, Roger Rasheed. It is thought the straight-talking Australian was keen for the Bulgarian to move out of the shadow of his partner, Maria Sharapova.
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