Murray closes on coach as Ward makes history with win

Andy Murray is close to appointing a new coach having identified the person he wants to succeed Ivan Lendl.

Britain's Andy Murray returns to his chair during a training session for the French Open tennis tournament, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The Wimbledon champion began his search in earnest early last month after the announcement in March that his hugely successful two-year partnership with Lendl had ended.

Many names have been linked with the post, ranging from high-profile figures like John McEnroe and Mats Wilander to well-respected coaches Bob Brett and Larry Stefanki.

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Key for Murray will have been the amount of time the candidates were prepared to commit to the role, which was the insurmountable obstacle that caused Lendl to step away and which almost certainly rules out McEnroe.

Brett and Roger Rasheed have been considered by Murray in the past but the latter’s successful partnership with Grigor Dimitrov means he is not a contender this time.

Murray confirmed he has one name in mind and he has held talks with that person, although no deal has yet been offered or agreed.

The Scot said: “There’s always a few complications but as long as the desire from both people is to work together then hopefully it can happen soon.”

It would be a surprise were Murray to name his coach during the tournament, with the announcement likely to come in time for the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club in two weeks’ time. There is no immediate hurry given Murray has Dani Vallverdu, his long-time friend and a valued assistant to Lendl, alongside him and can also call on the expertise of Darren Cahill, who has helped him out between coaches before.

Murray said: “For me, it’s not about rushing into something. It’s about getting it right, getting the right person. Until that’s the case, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing with the guys I’m working with.

“There are also people that I can speak to about things. I have met a lot of good people that I respect and listen to their opinions on the tennis tour. I’m not in a panic to get someone, but it’s a lot closer than it was.”

The French Open draw was a mixed bag for Murray, who will face Kazakh Andrey Golubev first up, with German-Jamaican Dustin Brown or Australian Marinko Matosevic potential second-round opponents.

From there it gets tougher. Talented German Philipp Kohlschreiber is the first seed he could meet in the third round while Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka is a potential quarter-final opponent and he is in the same half as reigning eight-time champion Rafael Nadal.

James Ward became the first British man to come through qualifying at the French Open for 41 years with a nail-biting victory over Slovenia’s Blaz Rola.

Not since John Lloyd in 1973 had a British player survived the men’s qualifying draw at Roland Garros but Ward saved two match points on his way to a 4-6 6-4 12-10 win.