sport

Lendl aware of challenges

Andy Murray's coach Ivan Lendl accepts it will be as difficult as ever for the Scot to win titles next year.

After a successful year, many will see Murray as being at the peak of his game and hopeful that next season will bring long-awaited glory for the Scot.

However, Lendl has warned that with the world's top four now likely to be back in action, with Rafael Nadal having returned to training after a season-halting knee injury, the task would not be easy in the slightest.

The Czech-American who led Murray to both the Olympic gold and US Open title this year, emphasised how difficult it would be to win back-to-back Grand Slams at the Australian Open, as competition nowadays is so great.

Having coached Murray for almost a year, Lendl understands the event in Melbourne in January will be extremely challenging.

The former world number said: "Tennis is a very difficult sport to win these days with the likes of (Novak) Djokovic, (Roger) Federer and (Rafael) Nadal and Andy in that group -- it's very, very difficult to succeed."

This year's Grand Slams were shared amongst the top four players, signifying how high the level of talent and skill is on the tennis circuit.

With such exceptional competition within men's tennis it has been suggested that the current era is the greatest ever seen. However, Lendl is unsure about this claim and the idea of comparing the sport over such long periods of time.

He added: "I think you can look at many eras in the game and say there have been many good players at the same time. You can look at the early Eighties with Connors, McEnroe, Bjorg and myself, and compare it to the Sixties and

early Seventies with all the Australians there.

"I don't think you should be comparing one era to the other because it's just not comparable."

Despite this view though, the coach was still adamant that had he played Murray while still in his prime, the Scot would triumph without a doubt.

"He would kill me," Lendl said. "All you have to do is look at the sports where you can measure times - look at swimming, look at track and field and compare the times you had 30 years ago to the times today."