Wimbledon 2016: Ivan Lendl on Andy Murray, laughter - and losing
|Wimbledon on the BBC|
|Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July|
|Live: Coverage across BBC TV, BBC Radio and BBC Sport website with further coverage on Red Button, Connected TVs and app. Click for more details|
Ivan Lendl won 94 singles titles as a player, including eight Grand Slams. But he also lost 11 Grand Slam finals, and his dislike of finishing second remains very much alive.
"I lost on the golf course yesterday, so I'm not a happy person," he says, as we meet to talk about his return to Andy Murray's coaching team.
"He - a member at a club near Wimbledon - played well. He finished with three birdies in five holes to finish one up - and I didn't like that."
Lendl liked what he saw at Queen's Club, though, as Murray won the title for a record fifth time to mark the resumption of their partnership in style.
- Murray v Broady on day two of Wimbledon
- Murray on Wimbledon nerves and facing Broady
- Wimbledon order of play
Their first spell brought glittering prizes: a Wimbledon title, a US Open title and an Olympic gold medal. So when Murray's arrangement with Amelie Mauresmo came to an end in May, it was no surprise Lendl, a 56-year-old naturalised American, was top of the world number two's wish list.
He had been coaching some of the United States' best juniors, but was on a plane to London within 48 hours of deciding this was the right time to pick up where they left off.
Lendl is direct and engaging, and has a string of unrepeatable jokes at his disposal. His humour can be cutting, but also good natured, and he sees similarities with the man he is hoping to propel to a second Wimbledon title over the next fortnight.
"We make fun of people standing by the side - like you, at times," he says. "We both enjoy sports and we both enjoy a little laughter here and there."
British number one Murray tends to agree, but claims his brand of humour is not quite so ruthless.
"I'm not as bad as him - not quite as bad," he says. "He can be pretty harsh with his words, but he doesn't mean them most of the time. He's very different to how he looks on TV when he's watching the matches."
Former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek concurs. They met three times on court in the early 1990s, and shared a locker room countless times.
"You heard him a lot," Krajicek recalls. "He was very vocal, always making a lot of jokes.
"Outside on the court you thought, 'Does this guy ever smile? Does this guy have an emotion - except looking a little grumpy on the court?' But when there was no match stress, he was a good guy."
Lendl's courtside demeanour has earned him the title 'Old Stoneface'. It may not be a nickname he is particularly fond of, but it masks a strong competitive drive and occasional inner turmoil.
"I'm worried about the match at times, and I'm comfortable at other times when some other people aren't," Lendl says.
"You work as part of a team and if Andy loses, that means we all lost. I had a team as well and, although my role on the team is a little different, I still don't like it."
Murray respects completely what Lendl tells him. They both know what it feels like to play in multiple Grand Slam finals, and lose more than they have won, and they also know what makes each other tick.
"It's important that you have an understanding," Murray continues.
"I need to know that when the biggest matches come that the people who are giving me that information, tactics and feedback are giving it to me honestly and telling me the truth all of the time.
"In practice when things are going well, he tells me 'you are doing great', and when it isn't he tells me to pull my socks up - 'this needs to get better, concentrate more, focus on this'. Training's not easy, and I like that."
Lendl has not been brought in for his technical expertise, but he can do wonders for Murray's psychology. The Scot sounded relaxed and confident over the weekend - in the knowledge a lot of the groundwork has been laid by a man who in the past has brought out the very best in him.
"I ask him a lot of questions and what he wants to work on as well," Lendl says of the training sessions he runs in conjunction with Jamie Delgado.
"I don't give him information during practice. We just run certain drills and that's it.
"I'm a big believer in preparation, and when you prepare well, there doesn't need to be much said. Drills and preparation are the key in my mind."