Updated: Wednesday, 11 June 2014 22:19 | By Agence France-Presse

Murray starts bold new era with Mauresmo

Andy Murray starts his bold venture with new coach Amelie Mauresmo on Wednesday as the Wimbledon champion opens his Queen's Club title defence against Paul-Henri Mathieu.


Murray starts bold new era with Mauresmo

Britain's Andy Murray trains as his newly-appointed French coach Amelie Mauresmo looks on at the Queen's Club in west London, on June 11, 2014 - by Andrew Cowie

Murray sent shockwaves through the tennis world when he announced on Sunday that Frenchwoman Mauresmo was his choice to replace Ivan Lendl, who quit in March, as his coach for at least the grass-court season.

The 27-year-old's decision to ignore several high-profile male coaches to hire Mauresmo, a former world number one and Wimbledon champion, has been the talk of the sport for the last three days and inevitably reporters and photographers crammed into every available space around the court as the pair had their first practice session together at Queen's on Wednesday.

There were plenty of smiles from both as world number five Murray went through his workout ahead of his second round match against France's Mathieu, which is scheduled to be the second match on the main court at the Wimbledon warm-up in west London.

Mauresmo, who had arrived too late to witness her new employer's morning hit on Tuesday, finally joined Murray's regular team of assistant coach Dani Vallverdu, fitness trainers Matt Little and Jez Green, and physio Mark Bender, as the Scot practised with Denis Kudla of the United States.

After receiving a bye into the second round, Murray will be expected to start his bid for a record-equalling fourth Queen's title with a comfortable win against world number 92 Mathieu, who has lost all five of his matches against the British star.

It will be a welcome return to grass for Murray after the clay-court season came to a bitter end with a humbling straight sets defeat against Rafael Nadal in the French Open semi-finals.

Since losing to Roger Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray has been unstoppable on grass, winning 18 consecutive matches to take the Olympic gold medal in the men's singles at the All England Club, then lifting the Queen's title last year before becoming the first British man to win the Wimbledon single crown for 77 years.

That golden period for Murray came during his remarkably successful two-year spell with Lendl, who helped end the Scot's long run of failures in Grand Slam finals.

Now the pressure is on Mauresmo is prove she can restore Murray to that kind of Grand Slam glory after a post-Wimbledon slump which has seen him fail to reach a single final since beating Novak Djokovic at the All England Club last July.

Mauresmo has tried her hand at coaching on several occasions since retiring in 2009 and even had a brief spell working with male player Michael Llodra in 2010.

She was part of former world number one Victoria Azarenka's coaching staff in 2012 and coached compatriot Marion Bartoli to her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, while also remaining the France Fed Cup captain.

But Murray, like Mauresmo a two-time Grand Slam champion, is the only current member of the world's top 10 to have a female coach and the decision is seen as a gamble in some quarters.

Australia's Marinko Matosevic, who beat former Queen's winner Marin Cilic on Tuesday, gave voice to the dissenters as he became the first man to criticise the appointment.

"For me, I couldn't do it since I don't think that highly of the women's game," said Matosevic, who is coached by compatriot Mark Woodforde.

"His mum coached him and she did a great job with him, so we'll see what happens.

"It's all equal rights these days. Got to be politically correct. So, yeah, someone's got to give it a go. Won't be me."

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