One of the main questions heading into the 2014 Australian Open was how British no.1 Andy Murray would perform so soon after his back surgery. The reigning Wimbledon champion had been sidelined since September and only returned to professional action at the Doha Open, just two weeks before arriving in Melbourne.
While Murray has refused to set expectations for himself at the season-opening Grand Slam event, he managed to reach the quarter-final stage, where he lost to 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in a valiant effort.
Eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl, who coached Murray to his two major championships, is satisfied with the Brit’s recovery and believes he will settle back into the tour smoothly because it is still early in the season.
“He is hitting the ball great,” Ivan Lendl said about the Brit’s training and performance during his 10 days spent in Melbourne. “It’s definitely easier to come back from an injury at the beginning of the year than it is at Wimbledon, when everyone has played for six months,” Lendl said. “There’s no question Andy had a very good draw and took advantage of it. He has played his way into the tournament nicely.”
The 26-year-old defeated Go Soeda, Vincent Millot, Feliciano Lopez and Stephane Roberts before losing to the world No. 6 in the quarter-final stage. While three of those opponents were ranked outside of the top 100, Lendl insists that those players are no longer considered “glorified practice” as they were several decades ago, which shows that Murray had to work hard for each of his victories.
“You look at the players in today’s game and even guys ranked 200 are good players, so you still have to perform well,” Lendl said. “In our times when anybody was ranked 200, it was most of the time just glorified practice. That has changed dramatically.”