Andy Murray has announced that he and coach Ivan Lendl have mutually agreed to end their two-year partnership, one that included Murray becoming the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years last year.
In a joint statement on Murray's official website it appeared Czech-born Lendl, himself a multiple Grand Slam champion, had been the instigator of the split.
“Working with Andy over the last two years has been a fantastic experience for me”, said Lendl. “He is a first class guy. Having helped him achieve his goal of winning major titles, I feel like it is time for me to concentrate on some of my own projects moving forward including playing more events around the world which I am really enjoying. I will always be in Andy’s corner and wish him nothing but great success as he too goes into a new phase of his career.”
Murray said: “I’m eternally grateful to Ivan for all his hard work over the past two years, the most successful of my career so far. As a team, we’ve learned a lot and it will definitely be of benefit in the future. I’ll take some time with the team to consider the next steps and how we progress from here”.
In the two years that Lendl and Murray have worked together, the 26-year-old Scot has won Olympic Gold and historic US Open and Wimbledon titles, establishing Murray as one of the world's best players.
Murray is currently recovering from back surgery but hopes to return to Davis Cup duty with Great Britain for his side's quarter-final tie with Italy next month.
It was only his third event of the season, but Novak Djokovic going title-less for the first two and half months of 2014 might have set alarm bells ringing.
A set and a half into his Indian Wells final against Roger Federer, it seemed a very likely scenario as well.
When Djokovic was broken while serving for the match in the final set, many doubted he could mentally handle a tiebreak.
Instead, it was Federer who crumbled and Djokovic ended up getting a win he desperately needed.
Heading into Indian Wells, the Serb was over 4000 points adrift of world No1 Rafael Nadal in the rankings and had failed to defend two titles early on, losing a five-setter in the Australian Open quarters to Stanislas Wawrinka and a three-setter to Federer in Dubai.
Those sound like two very legitimate defeats to two worthy champions, and considering he ended last year with 24 straight wins to cap off a 74-9 season, just thinking that Djokovic was in crisis mode is actually laughable.
But in the bigger scheme of things, and hearing him admit to his own mental lapses on the bigger stage of late, Djokovic winning just two of the last nine grand slams is clearly not good enough according to the Serb’s own high standards.
He said he brought in Boris Becker to help him mentally but ended up winning his first title of the year – at a 128-draw event and beating an in-form Federer in the final – not with the help of the German legend but with his long-time coach Marian Vajda in his corner instead.
Djokovic’s muted celebration after he was forced to dig to incredible depths to overcome Federer was also very telling.
Along with the double-hug he had with Vajda, his reaction showed how much the title meant to him. Ultimately, it’s those brief moments of fortitude that pay off in the greatest ways.
The 4000-point lead Nadal had on him is down to 2230, he avoided losing to Federer for a second time in three weeks and he found his mojo at what could prove to be a vital moment in the season.
Federer’s resurgence is also one of many positive things that are happening at the moment.
The ‘Big Four’ are now back in the top-six in the rankings; we have an American return to the top-10 in the form of John Isner, we have a new slam champion in Wawrinka, and players like Alexandr Dolgopolov, Grigor Dimitrov and Ernests Gulbis who are stepping up.
Now bring on Miami, where tennis’ version of March Madness continues for two more weeks.
One question presents itself though, can Djokovic keep up his form with Boris Becker sitting courtside instead of Vajda?
We’ll find out in Key Biscayne, where the German is due to link up with the world No2 again.
Roger Federer will head to Miami in a positive frame of mind despite seeing his 11-match winning streak ended by Novak Djokovic in the Indian Wells final.
Federer had beaten his rival two weeks earlier on his way to the title in Dubai and had hoped to repeat the double he managed the last time he won back-to-back tournaments in 2012.
Although it was not to be, Federer was happy he had managed to maintain his form at such a high level, putting his struggles of last season even further behind him.
The 32-year-old said: “I’m very happy. I think I’m playing really good tennis. I’m moving well, serving well – consistently well. So many things are working.
“I’m surprised that I’m able to keep it up week after week now. I expected myself to have a breakthrough tournament, but then maybe a couple of early exits. Who knows, maybe that’s still to come.
“But overall I’m just happy I’m playing consistent tennis and I’m going deep in tournaments and I’m giving myself chances to win.
“Clearly it would have been amazing to win here and win back-to-back tournaments with Dubai. But I got very, very close, so it’s encouraging for Miami and for the rest of the season, no doubt.”
His run in the Californian desert lifted him to fifth in the rankings, from eighth, and he now has world No4 David Ferrer in his sights.