EMILIO Sanchez Vicario had a visitor recently. Here, knocking on the door of his tennis academy in Naples, Florida, was Judy Murray. Her presence rekindled memories of the many similar trips she used to make to check on her son Andy's progress at the original Sanchez-Casal academy in Barcelona.

Once again, though, it wasn't purely a social call. Top of Judy's agenda was a personal call on Ali Collins, the Dunblane teenager attempting to follow in her son's footsteps who has been taken under the Murrays' wing. Collins has ranked as high as 119 on the ITF Junior Circuit and has also represented Great Britain in the Junior Fed Cup but has endured injury difficulties along the way and Sanchez-Vicario was delighted that Murray had made the journey to pass on a few hints and tips. The world domination plans of the Sanchez-Vicario dynasty are continuing with a third offshoot academy in Nanjing, China, but the Scot, closely followed by Svetlana Kuznetsova, remains the poster boy for everything they have to offer.

"Ali has had a tough year," Sanchez Vicario said. "She has worked very hard but she had one injury at the start of the year in her arm then another injury afterwards. Now she is recovering and hopefully she will start to play again very soon.

"But it was very nice to talk with Judy again and exchange some nice stories and relive the journey that Andy had in Spain. It is always fun to talk again about Andy's early years and it is always nice to talk to Judy. She is very knowledgeable and very down to earth. Whether we agree with my point of view or her point of view, each of us always listen to the point of view of the other."

Collins, of course, still has time on her side. Andy Murray, on the other hand, knows his time is now. Despite having spent much practice time at the Sanchez-Casal academy on clay, it is only at the age of 29 that he appears ready to lift his maiden French Open title.

In 2015, the first two clay court titles of his career - in Munich and Madrid - were followed by an agonising five-set semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in Paris, and hopes that he could go one better this year were bolstered by his straight-sets victory against the normally imperious Serbian world No 1 in the final at Rome last weekend. Sanchez is convinced that his former pupil is one of a select band of players who can win this tournament.

"Andy is mature as a player now, and he is putting together his points in a more clever way," said Sanchez Vicario. "When you play smarter on clay you get better results. Andy has been competitive most of the time. In Monte Carlo he lost in the semi-finals to Rafa then he went to make the final in Madrid and won in Rome. Those are the steps you need to arrive in Paris with opportunities and I think for the first time that he can call himself one of the guys who can take the cup - if he can piece together seven good matches. To win a tournament over five sets on clay is something which challenges you to the edge but hopefully he will be able to do what he has been able to do at the US Open or Wimbledon."

Much as it did on both of those occasions, the vagaries of both the draw and the schedule could be responsible for crucial marginal gains or deficits. At first glance, the draw appears to contains mixed blessings for him. While the earliest he can face either Djokovic or the re-born Nadal will be in the final, an in-form Kei Nishikori could wait in the quarters and reigning champion Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals. Rain is forecast for Paris this fortnight, which has the capacity to skew schedules as effectively as the cyclone which famously gave him a day's extra rest before his 2012 US open win.

"Clay can be very, very challenging so we will see how the draw falls for him, the length of the matches," said Sanchez. "But with the momentum he has right now I think he is one of the few guys who will make it to the end."

While the likes of Roger Federer and home favourite Gael Monfils miss out through injury, for the second year Nadal arrives at his second home in Paris hoping to claim La Decima, his tenth French Open title. Assuming both arrive at their prospective semi-final unmolested, that last four meeting between Nadal and Djokovic will be worth watching.

"Rafa is building up his momentum and is much more confident than he was four or five months ago," said the Mallorcan's countryman Sanchez. "So on clay, at a place where he has won nine times, he has to have a chance. He has been playing tournaments in South America on the clay so he has a bit of extra practice compared to Andy or Novak, but Andy or Novak have been winning more of these big clay court tournaments than Rafa recently. It is a big, big moment to see which of these three will win the title. If Rafa can make it to the semi-finals then you can be sure that he will put up a big, big challenge to Novak because over five sets he is one of the best ever."

All of this will be intriguing enough without considering the latest dollop of intrigue over the Scot's coaching team. With the Parisien influence of Amelie Mauresmo gone, he arrives at the Bois de Boulogne with Jamie Delgado in the lead coaching role, albeit amid speculation that a reunion with former coach Ivan Lendl could be on the cards. Whether or not that comes to pass, Murray still appears to be searching for another legend of the sport to make a difference in the slams. Sanchez sympathises with his predicament.

"The time that Andy was with Ivan was the time where he was playing his best tennis and getting his best results, winning the big tournaments," said Sanchez. "If he is thinking about going back to that, it must be because he managed to maximise his potential. But what I don't know, first of all, is whether Ivan is ready to do it, because he has been working part time with the USTA, and secondly if there is someone else out there he can find who has a similar character to Lendl and is also capable of getting the best out of Andy. Andy is a very strong personality himself so whoever comes in has to be able to work with him."

All that can wait, though. Superstar coach in his entourage or not, Andy Murray arrives in Paris this spring with a spring in his step.