by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – All eyes were on Olympic champion Andy Murray as he began practicing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
But none were as fixated as those of his coach, eight-time Grand Slam singles winner Ivan Lendl.
“Great serve,” he said to his protégé, who defeated ATP World Tour No. 1 Roger Federer to claim the Olympic title.
As another ball zoomed through the court: “Great serve.”
“I can tell that one by the toss,” Lendl said.
“Yep,” he said matter-of-factly as another serve hit its mark.
After a while, Lendl, the champion in Cincinnati in 1982, said he would try to return the serves and, if he did, told Murray to then put the balls away.
“Kill it,” he urged.
Fans were excited to see the Olympic gold medal winner.
After Murray sneezed, several simultaneously said, “Bless you.” The crowd, in turn, erupted in laughter.
Murray, who withdrew from the Rogers Cup because of a knee injury, displayed consistency as he trained.
While practice partner Viktor Troicki worked on his volleys, Murray reached around his back and between his legs to return a ball.
The crowd applauded. And one fan yelled, “Gold medal, baby!”
The fans also cheered as Murray rushed into the court to get to a drop shot.
Murray, the champion in 2008 and 2011, is seeded third at this year’s tournament. In his first match, he will play either Jürgen Melzer or Sam Querrey.
Troicki will take on a lucky loser since John Isner has withdrawn from the tournament.
James Henry is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis and is currently in Cincinnati covering the tournament. To follow him on Twitter click here.
Photos by James Henry