Lendl to help replace Connors on tennis tour

While Andy Murray basked in the glow of his first major championship, his coach celebrated the U.S. Open title with a few rounds of golf with his buddies.

There was little talk of tennis, and that was just fine with Ivan Lendl.

"I'm just with my friends, and we have a good time," he said Wednesday night in a phone interview.

It's a well-deserved break for Lendl, who was on hand Monday when his pupil Murray beat defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in the Flushing Meadows final.

It was Britain's first major men's tennis title since 1936, and Lendl said it went to a worthy champion.

"It's very nice to see when somebody who wanted to work hard and is willing to put the work in gets rewarded for it," he said.

Now Lendl is returning to the court himself to sub for Jimmy Connors on four stops in an upcoming series of matches around the country featuring several former Grand Slam champions.

Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras also are in the group of competitors scheduled to take part in the four-player mini-tournaments. Each event will feature one-set semifinals and a one-set title match.

"I enjoy playing every now and then," the 52-year-old Lendl said. "I don't want to play too much. It's too hard on my body."

Connors is out with a hip injury, so Lendl is planning to compete in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and San Jose, Calif. Michael Chang will fill in when the series comes to Surprise, Ariz.; Tampa, Fla.; and Atlanta.

Formerly known as the Champions Series, the PowerShares Series begins Oct. 13 in Surprise, and the final day is Nov. 30 in Anaheim, Calif. The players will earn points over the course of the schedule, with the top three finishers splitting a $1 million purse.

Lendl won eight Grand Slam singles titles and 94 tournaments overall during a 17-year career on the ATP Tour. He spent 270 weeks at No. 1 in the world rankings.

He got involved with Murray when Darren Cahill called him in December and said he was helping the Scot with his search for a coach.

"I said, 'Have Andy call me.' We chatted a little bit and we both decided ... to sit down face to face and talk about it more," Lendl said.

With Lendl's help, Murray made it to the Wimbledon final, where he lost to Roger Federer in four sets. But Murray turned around and had a breakthrough a month later when he beat Federer in the Olympic final at the All England Club.

Then came the U.S. Open win — which Lendl thinks could make it easier for Murray to add another major title to his resume.

"Once you win, you have no doubt that you can win," said Lendl, who, like Murray, lost the first four times he reached a major final. "So you have gone through it once and you can do it again."


Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap