ANDY MURRAY has grown as a player and a person since winning Wimbledon in 2013, according to his coach Ivan Lendl.
Lendl returned to Murray’s camp ahead of the tournament after an absence of more than two years and the partnership is once again flourishing.
The Scot is a hot favourite to add a third grand slam title to the ones he won under Lendl at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon the following year when he faces first-time finalist Milos Raonic on Sunday.
Murray was in fine form prior to reuniting with Lendl and will play in his third successive slam final but he has so far been unable to add to his tally.
Murray has talked about the extra confidence and belief Lendl gives him and the Czech-American has seen positive changes in the 29-year-old.
He said: “Every player is improving all the time because if you’re not improving you get left behind so I see improvement in his all-around game.
“As people get older they mature as well, even though some people would argue that I haven’t, but Andy has.”
This will be the first time Murray faces someone other than Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in a slam final, but Raonic showed in his semi-final victory over Federer the threat he possesses.
The expectation levels on Murray will be higher than ever before but Lendl does not expect that to make a difference.
He said: “You just prepare the best you can and you can’t control who is on the other side so you prepare to play the best tennis hopefully and you hope it’s good enough.”
Lendl stopped working with Murray in 2014 because he no longer wanted to do the travelling but was tempted back after the Scot split from Amelie Mauresmo in May.
It was potentially a risky move for both given their previous success so a slam title in their first tournament would be the ultimate validation.
“It’s not about what it would mean to me, it’s what it would mean to Andy to win here again,” said Lendl. “It would be nice to win the last point.”
Murray’s great friend Ross Hutchins is not surprised to see the partnership bearing fruit again, especially given Murray’s fine form this season.
“He’s clearly playing very, very well,” said Hutchins. “He seems at ease with his game, very confident. You just have to look at what he’s done prior to Ivan as well on the clay courts.
“It’s quite an amazing build-up that he’s had and when these type of players get into a groove of winning matches, it’s tough to push them off their stool.
“I know Ivan brings huge amounts to Andy’s game, huge amounts to his mind and also to his confidence. Andy and Ivan are an extremely good combination and they’re quite a unit to deal with.”
Hutchins was an emotional onlooker on Centre Court in 2013 when Murray won his first Wimbledon title.
The 31-year-old had just finished treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, and was given the all clear later that month.
The former British Davis Cup player returned to the tour in 2014 but retired at the end of that season and is now the ATP’s vice-president of player relations.
He has no doubt Murray’s hunger for more slam titles remains fiercer than ever.
“When someone’s achieved as much as players of his calibre have achieved, any title on a big stage means a huge amount,” said Hutchins.
“I guess the more you win and the older you get, the more established you become, your expectation goes up and people’s expectation goes up.
“He’s achieving so much now it’s quite staggering and he’s playing at such a high level. True champions never get tired of winning and that’s what he is. He’s a true champion and he’s as good an athlete as we’ve ever had.”