Andy Murray’s alone but can still secure major prize
He does not speak in the interests of his own profession, but Darren Cahill believes it is “not a bad thing” that Andy Murray is going into the Australian Open, which started here today, without a recognised coach in his corner.
Cahill, who worked with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt and is one of the world's most respected coaches, thinks Murray has been sensible not to rush into appointing a successor to Miles Maclagan.
Alex Corretja remains a part-time member of the world No 5's coaching team but is not with him here.
“I don't think it affects his chances of winning this tournament too much,” Cahill said.
“During a player's career it's not a bad thing to problem-solve yourself, not have to always turn to a coach and rely on a coach to give you the answers you're looking for. I think it's part of the growing-up process. I think Andy's learning that and he's taking more responsibility for his career.”
Cahill, who is part of the ESPN commentary team, was considered a possible target for Murray, but said he had not been approached by the Scot.
Cahill has commitments both to television and to the Adidas team of coaches, who offer support to the company's stable of players, which includes Murray.
The Australian recognises the huge challenge Murray faces in an era so dominated by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have won 23 of the last 26 Grand Slam tournaments.
The only other champions since the 2004 French Open have been Marat Safin (here in 2005), Novak Djokovic (here in 2008) and Juan Martin del Potro (in New York in 2009, when he beat both Federer and Nadal).
“It becomes a slightly psychological thing,” Cahill said.
“When you've got those two guys standing in your way, you don't have to knock over one of them, you've got to bowl down two of them. He's been capable of getting through one of them in the major tournaments but hasn't quite done the Juan Martin del Potro double yet.
“Once he does that I feel like he's going to win multiple majors, but I think it would be a tough ask for him to do it here in Australia in these conditions, especially if the sun comes out, because of the physicality of playing the five-set matches.
“But if he gets through to the semis and the final they become night matches for the men, so you're a bit shaded from the physicality of the conditions, and he has a real chance. I think the world of him as a player and also as a person. He's a great guy. I do believe he's going to be a major champion, so why not here?”
Cahill believes Murray has a good draw, particularly as he cannot meet Nadal or Federer until the semi-finals and final respectively.
Robin Soderling is a potential quarter-final opponent, but in five visits here the Swede has only ever won two matches and never gone beyond the second round.
“He did win Brisbane, beating Andy Roddick, but when you go back to a place where you haven't had success before it's not an easy thing,” added Cahill.
Murray, sporting the new “intense green” shirt he will wear during this tournament, joined some of the game's other big names in exhibition matches yesterday to raise money for victims of the Queensland floods. He gets down to business tomorrow with his opening match against Karol Beck, the world No 101.
Beck, who reached his highest world ranking of No 36 six years ago, completed a two-year ban in 2007, having failed a test for clenbuterol, a banned drug.
Meanwhile, Britain's Anne Keothavong fought her way through qualifying at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time yesterday to earn her place in the main draw.
The world No 118, who beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-4 in her third qualifying match, went into her first-round encounter with Russia's Arina Rodionova today knowing that victory would probably take her back into the top 100.
Elena Baltacha, the only other Briton left in the singles following Heather Watson's defeat on Saturday, was meeting Jamie Hampton, of the United States.