Murray to take time out
10:36pm Tuesday 8th April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Andy Murray will spend the next month away from the tennis tour honing his clay-court game and attempting to find a successor to Ivan Lendl.
The Wimbledon champion adopted a hectic schedule over the first three months of the season to get matches under his belt after surgery but feels the time is right to take a step back.
Murray is not due to play his next tournament until Madrid in early May and on Wednesday he will meet with all his team to begin the process of searching for a new coach.
He will then head out to Valencia later this month for two weeks of intensive training on clay with the aim of being in the best possible shape for the French Open.
Murray's record at Roland Garros is by far the weakest of all the grand slams and he has never made the final of a tour-level event on clay.
The challenges for the Scot of matching the best in the world on the surface were demonstrated once again on Sunday when he was convincingly beaten by Italy's Fabio Fognini in the Davis Cup.
Although ranked 13th in the world, Fognini could certainly claim to be in the top five on clay on current form, and Murray knows he must improve if he is to be a threat in Paris.
There is also the added complication of Murray's back issues, which were aggravated by playing on clay and caused him to miss the French Open last year.
The 26-year-old took the decision to have surgery last September and has been relatively happy with how his back has reacted so far, but he conceded it will never be perfect.
Murray, who was speaking at the launch of this year's AEGON Championships at Queen's Club, said: "I've always taken the French Open extremely seriously and that was why missing it last year was a really hard decision.
"My consistency in the slams has been solid over the last few years. I want to maintain that. Obviously the French is the only slam I haven't made the final of so that's something I would like to try to achieve before the end of my career.
"I've made the semis once and a couple of quarters so it's certainly not impossible but I'll definitely need to make some improvements.
"I have played really well on clay; I haven't played great tennis on clay, and when you're competing against the greatest clay-court player of all time (Rafael Nadal), and some guys that are just behind him, it's tough.
"To play great tennis on clay I need to get better and that takes time on the practice court and also playing matches. I didn't have that luxury last year. Hopefully this year I can stay fit and healthy and I can make some improvements."
Murray's hugely successful two-year partnership with Lendl came to an end last month and the Scot hopes to have a new coach in place by the French Open.
He must decide whether to go for another high-profile former player like Lendl, whose hiring started a trend that has seen Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg return to the game.
Alternatively he could choose someone with a proven coaching background such as Bob Brett, Paul Annacone or Darren Cahill, with whom he has worked on and off for many years.
But finding the right person who is both available and willing to commit the amount of time required - something Lendl no longer was - is not likely to be easy.
Murray said: "What I needed (with Lendl) is maybe different to what I need now.
"There's certain things that Ivan was fantastic at and he got me to where I wanted to get to, and that's all you can ask from a coach.
"Now I need to look forward and see the things I maybe would have liked done differently and the things in my game that I want to improve on and who I feel can help with that.
"If it's a technical thing, then an ex-great player isn't necessarily the right person to speak to. Those are the sort of things I'll need to think about. There's no need to rush a decision like this."