Ivan Lendl: Andy Murray is a pleasure to work with

By Jonathan OverendBBC tennis correspondent

New coach Ivan Lendl says Andy Murray is "an absolute pleasure to work with" as they continue preparations for their first Grand Slam event together.

The Australian Open begins in Melbourne on Monday with Murray, the fourth seed, drawn against American Ryan Harrison.

He warmed up on Friday with a straight sets win over David Nalbandian in an exhibition at Kooyong watched by Lendl.

"He is asking a lot of questions which is great," said Lendl. "We've had a good time, had good laughs."

Asked what the key to a successful player/coach relationship is, Lendl said: "It has to be a good match-up personality wise, and I believe it is.

"You have to respect each other.

"We met a few times in Florida and that was one thing I asked for, a few meetings, so we could see how everyone is [got on]."

Lendl, in his first coaching job, is keen to manage expectations going into the first major of the year. He also feels Murray has attracted unnecessarily harsh criticism for some of his previous tilts at the sport's big prizes.

"I think what is important is to focus on the long term and let results come to you," he said. "A player needs to mature and I believe Andy is getting there.

"He was heavily criticised for losing to Djokovic at the start of the year [2011 Australian Open final] but look what a year Novak had. If that had happened later in the year nobody would be criticising Andy the way they did."

Meanwhile one of Lendl's great rivals, John McEnroe, has overcome initial doubts to predict success for the new partnership which is the talk of tennis.

"I thought it was a leftfield shot, sort of desperate," he told BBC Sport after helping with the draw ceremony on Friday, "but on reflection I was wrong. I think it could work really well.

"Lendl brings credibility. He's a really hard worker.

"What will be interesting is to see how Murray acts when he gets a little negative and starts shouting to his box.

"It's one thing to do it to Brad Gilbert, it's another thing to do it to Ivan Lendl so I'll be interested to see what happens."

However, Murray says he was attracted by the honest and open approach of his new coach.

Murray, 24, said: "A lot of people are maybe too nice sometimes; they just don't want to upset you or say the wrong thing.

"But he was very honest, very open and that was important."

Lendl lost his first four grand slam finals before going on to win eight major singles titles and hold the world number one ranking for 270 weeks.

Murray has suffered the frustration of losing all three of the major finals he has contested in an era dominated by what many regard as three of the greatest players of all time: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.