I'm not Andy Murray's BFF. I don't even know the guy, though I did get close to his DNA. I held a bottle of water he had left in the interview room at the US Open a few years back. No, Haters, I did not take a swig from it. Ew.
But if I were his best friend, I'd throw my arm around his shoulders, steer him to a quiet corner of the pub and offer him these tips for getting over his split with Ivan Lendl.
Even though theirs was a professional liaison -- coach/player, mentor/mentee -- and Lendl was on Murray's payroll, that doesn't mean that feelings weren't involved. Murray himself spoke of feeling "gutted" when asked about the split a few days ago in Miami, where Murray took out 32nd-seed Felciano Lopez in straight sets in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
1. You are still a champion, and have more championships in you. I know, I know, you were 0-4 in Grand Slam finals until Lendl joined your camp. In your first year of working with him, you won an Olympic gold medal in the Summer Games in London in 2012, and a US Open title later that fall. Then, nine months later, you won Wimbledon, the first guy to do so from Great Britain in 77 years. That success is yours. Sure, Lendl was a key ingredient, but the magic ju-ju doesn't disappear with him. He taught you a way of going about your game that you can continue to rely upon, match after match. It's yours. Lendl doesn't take that with him.
"The mental side of the game is something that I learned a lot, working with him," Murray told Tennis Channel commentator Mark Knowles after his victory against Lopez, who Andy's mum calls "Deliciano."
2. Keep your eye on the ball. Yeah, Tennis Instruction 101. But now is not the time to let thoughts of what was and what might have been or should have been sneak into your head on court, especially after missing a shot. You yourself said that the matches you played, post-breakup, "were not particularly fun." Find something to love -- how 'bout that sunshine in Miami, huh? -- and repeat after me: bounce, hit. Bounce, hit. Bounce, hit.
3. There are other fish in the sea. Even for a moody, down-at-the-mouth guy like you. The world of tennis is filled with people who think they know how to improve your game. You'll find someone who YOU think actually can. Don't rush it. I know you want someone in place by the French Open in May. Take your time. You've gone for long stretches without coaches. Don't rush into something now, just because you think you need a coach in your box when you defend your Wimbledon title this summer. A coach doesn't win Wimbledon. YOU win Wimbledon. (See Tip #1.)
4. Stick to your standards. You wanted more time with Lendl. Lendl wanted more time to pursue his own trophies on the senior tour. You didn't want a coaching relationship that was "half-baked." Don't blame yourself, or think, "Maybe I was asking for too much." There was an article on just this sort of thinking a year ago on HuffPo:
Do you find yourself saying yes all the time to certain things in the relationship when in fact you really do not want to do them? Well, this is a sign that you are part of the women who love too much club. If you keep saying yes to things and situations that do not fill your heart with pleasure, you are not only being dishonest towards him but you will also fill your heart with anger and resentment over a long period of time.
Just substitute "players" for "women," and "coach" for "him," and you'll see how you shouldn't let this happen to you.
5. Make a fun change. I stole this suggestion from an About.com Teen Advice column. Yeah, you're 26, but the underlying principal is the same: "Breakups can be good excuses for fresh starts. Make a fun change: give yourself a makeover, get into a new hobby, join a new after-school activity or redecorate your room. It'll make you feel happy and give you a big burst of confidence."
Now, go out there, champ, and take it to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday. You're doing great!