Gentlemen's Singles Champion Andy Murray of Great Britain, right, poses...

Gentlemen's Singles Champion Andy Murray of Great Britain, right, poses with coach Ivan Lendl during the Wimbledon Championships 2013 Winners Ball at InterContinental Park Lane Hotel in London. (July 7, 2013) Credit: Getty

When Andy Murray hired Ivan Lendl as coach in early 2012, this is what they talked about -- "a lot," Lendl said.

As a player, Lendl had been a force on the pro tour before he turned 21 and was ranked No. 1 in the world by 23 -- but lost his first four championship finals in Grand Slam tournaments.

Murray, when he turned pro at 18, immediately was touted as a future major tournament winner -- but lost his first four Slam finals, becoming only the second man, after Lendl, to have that particular hard-knock experience.

To get past such an empty-belly feeling in the Slams, Lendl said, "There's no secrets." But he did bring to the table personal evidence of eight subsequent major titles and eventual induction into the tennis Hall of Fame.

"In terms of technical stuff," Murray said, "there has been very few things we've really worked on. The thing I found most beneficial is being able to speak to someone that had been in the position I was in, in terms of losing the first few Grand Slam finals and having been around the game quite a few years, but maybe not necessarily feeling like you had achieved much.

"Actually having Ivan to discuss that with, and he obviously went though the same emotions, made me feel a little bit more normal."

Late in 2011, Lendl was contacted by Darren Cahill, a former Australian pro who now works as a coach and television commentator, asking if Lendl would speak with Murray. To Lendl, the expectation was "for me to find a coach for Andy, and somehow I ended up doing it myself. Didn't quite volunteer, no. I recommended Tony Roche [who had coached Lendl much of his career] but that wasn't going to work out, and somehow the conversation turned and they asked if I'd be willing to do it."

Now 53, Lendl never had coached before. His philosophy, he said, is that "people make -- not just with coaching, but other things -- things too complicated. If you keep it simple, you have a better chance at success."

He went about analyzing how Murray specifically needed to attack each of the big three Slam winners -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic -- "and the biggest part of our discussion was if we saw the same things," Lendl said.

"Even if I was right and he was wrong, and we didn't see the same thing, or if he was right and I was wrong, it wouldn't have worked. We may both be wrong, but it's working."

By June 2012, six months into the arrangement, Lendl felt Murray would win Wimbledon. He didn't, losing a competitive four-setter to Federer. But by that point, a championship loss "wasn't the same," Lendl said, "because it was a match. It was a fight."

A month later, Murray's run to the London Olympics gold medal -- at Wimbledon, with semifinal and final victories over Djokovic and Federer -- was a liberation. Nine weeks after that, his first Grand Slam title, over Djokovic at the U.S. Open, was a jubilation. This year's Wimbledon championship was a celebration -- nationally -- for Britain's first Slam winner in 77 years.

"Most importantly, this last year has kind of changed my perception of myself," Murray said. "Because when you lose a lot of big matches, and even when you're successful in other tournaments, you're still getting asked why you aren't winning the big, big matches. And that does make you feel a bit like a loser.

"The last year or so, obviously that's changed."

Lendl has been there, too.

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