Supercoaches clash in Wimbledon showdown

Thirty years after duelling in tennis’s most intense 80s rivalry, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe will go head to head on the sport’s greatest stage in Sunday’s 130th Wimbledon final.

Only this time, instead of squaring off from two sides of the net, Lendl and McEnroe will be in the corners of Andy Murray and Milos Raonic trying to plot the downfall of the sport’s modern-day yin and yang rivals.

Somewhat ironically, Raonic, the cool “tennis mathematic” – as his new coach describes him – will rely on McEnroe, the original tennis superbrat, to outwit the calm and collected Lendl, who’s now in charge of hot-head Murray.

It is a fascinating finale brought to life by Raonic’s drama-charged five-set semi-final comeback win over Roger Federer and Murray’s far more routine defeat of grand slam under-achiever Tomas Berdych.

Not that Murray is exactly playing up the importance of the coaching sub-plot, despite being 11 and zero since reuniting with Lendl before the grasscourt season.

“I’m not playing against John and Milos isn’t playing against Ivan,” said the dour Scot.

Murray’s unbeaten run with Lendl comes two years after splitting with the mentor who guided Britain’s tennis hero to his only two grand slam triumphs.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Murray said.

“I obviously had the best years of my career with him.

“But there are other people that go into it as well. The rest of the team that’s working with me has helped get me into this position.

“There’s no guarantees that I win on Sunday, obviously.

“But I obviously wanted to work with Ivan again to try to help me win these events. That’s the goal.”

After succumbing to Federer in the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals and to Murray in five sets at the same stage at this year’s Australian Open, Raonic had the same reason for hiring McEnroe.

The 25-year-old’s only blip in 11 matches under the three-time Wimbledon champion’s tutelage came from a set and a service break up against Murray in the Queen’s Club final three weeks ago.

Raonic told Murray at the net back then he was hoping for a rematch at the All England Club.

Now the 25-year-old will get it – a year after Stefan Edberg, assisting Roger Federer, and Boris Becker, guiding Novak Djokovic, featured in the first real battle of the supercoaches.

Keen to get the first serve in, Murray questioned how much tennis super mouth McEnroe could actually influence Sunday’s outcome from the BBC commentary booth.

“I was told that John and him (Raonic) were not working together from Sunday,” Murray said.

“I don’t know what the deal is exactly, or if John will be sitting in (Raonic’s) box or not. I’d imagine he’d be in the commentary box.”

Advantage Murray.

Just as it’s been ever since Lendl recovered from two sets down to deny McEnroe the 1984 French Open crown in the most bitter loss of McEnroe’s career.

After that fateful afternoon in Paris, Lendl had the final say in 10 of his last 11 meetings with McEnroe.

He’s favoured to do so once again.

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