Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Andy's Old Coach Faces Some Mixed Feelings in Melbourne

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Andy's Old Coach Faces Some Mixed Feelings in Melbourne

Article excerpt

Byline: Phil Casey

ANDY Murray may have avoided Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open but there is no escaping a reminder of his glory days and more recent upheaval.

Murray was seeded to face Federer in the quarter-finals and Nadal in the semi-finals in Melbourne, only to see Federer crash out in the third round and Nadal lose in the quarter-finals to Tomas Berdych.

That means Murray takes on seventh seed Berdych in the last four today - a player who will have the inside track on the Wimbledon champion.

Berdych is coached by Murray's long-term friend and former assistant coach Dani Vallverdu, who - along with fitness trainer Jez Green - left the Murray camp at the end of last season.

"It's a great opportunity for both of them," said Vallverdu. "I am very pleased for Andy and Tomas. It's where they belong.

"They have been around semi-finals and finals of slams for the last five years so it's nothing new.

"It was always going to happen and it's great it happened early.

"I had a feeling it would happen here. When I was flying back from the Czech Republic in December with Ross Hutchins I told him 'you know they are going to play in the semi-finals in Australia'.

"If you would have told me in the beginning of the tournament this was going to happen, I would have signed up for it, Tomas would have and Andy as well."

Vallverdu has known Murray since they were teenagers at the same tennis academy in Barcelona and admits it might initially be a "bit weird" not sitting in the Scot's box on Rod Laver Arena after their title triumphs in the US Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

However, Murray has been through similar situations with previous coaches and Vallverdu is well aware the match will be won on the court - where Berdych leads the head-to-head 6-4 - rather than the stands.

He added: "It's not going to be normal but I don't think it's going to be strange.

"Maybe the first two games it will be a bit weird but it will be fine. …

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