ANDY MURRAY has brushed off criticism of his appointment of Amelie Mauresmo as coach, firmly pointing out the qualities that the 34-year-old Frenchwoman brings to the job.
The Wimbledon champion was asked to respond yesterday to comments by Virginia Wade, who described the recruitment of Mauresmo as a "joke" and predicted it would not work.
Asked if he was surprised by Wade's negative comments, Murray replied: "No. She's done it a few times before with me. It doesn't surprise me." The 68-year-old, who won Wimbledon in 1977, described Murray as a "drama queen" in 2012, when the Scot was labouring with back spasms in the French Open.
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Her latest comments follow the 27-year-old Scot's hiring of Mauresmo, who won Wimbledon in 2006, for the grass-court season, at least initially. Wade said: "Mauresmo was a total shock, I thought they were all fooling around. I think again he's maybe trying to mess with everybody. I think she was a little fragile mentally because she had the capabilities of beating everybody."
Murray said yesterday that there was a "long list" of attributes that Mauresmo brought to his camp.
"First of all, you can talk about her accomplishments on the tennis court. She won a lot. She was No.1 in the world. She won multiple grand slams. She got to latter stages of slams very often," he said of Mauresmo who won the Australian Open in the same year as her Wimbledon triumph.
He added: "I think she was someone who struggled with nerves and conquered them later in her career, which I think when you start to coach someone, I think you can help more than someone that hasn't had those issues. She understands the psychological part of the game maybe more than some because of that."
Murray, who won the Olympics and then the US Open in 2012, has been very open about having to endure nerves before big matches.
Technically, he believes Mauresmo is a kindred spirit. "She had quite a creative game style. She used a lot of spins, slices, she came to the net, good variety in her game. That's something that I've always tried to use during my career. So I think she can help with that," he said.
In their short professional relationship, he has also warmed to Mauresmo as a personality. "She's a very, very nice person. She's very easy to speak to. She's very easy to communicate with. She listens well. She's firm, as well," he said.
He dismissed suggestion that he had become a "feminist icon" by his hiring of Mauresmo. "It was about finding the right personality with the right experience to help me," he said. "If it helps bring more female coaches into men's sport and women's sport -there's not that many female coaches on the women's side either - that's a good thing, because there's absolutely no reason why someone like Amelie can't help me. It's possible it won't work. It has nothing to do with whether she's a woman or not. That's not why it will work or not work."
Murray will walk on to Centre Court today to begin his defence against David Goffin, the 23-year-old Belgian.
"I'm aware when I walk out
on the court I'm going to be nervous. I know there's going to be pressure," he said. "That's why today, when I woke up, there's butterflies there. You're one day away from starting the tournament. I hope that I'm able to deal with it well. We'll find out about 1:30 tomorrow."