For someone so young, Dani Vallverdu is a great organizer. He knows the game and he knows me inside out. He’ll do anything he can for me and he’s a true friend.
Along with Kim, there’s Dani Vallverdu. Every team needs a constant, a cornerstone. And he’s mine. The way I have things up in the group is that there have been physically trainers who come in just for a few weeks, and in recent months I have worked with a range of different physiotherapists. Ivan comes for a few weeks at the important times but Dani has been ever-present for the last three years and that consistency has been vital to my success. He is only 26 years old, but he’s seriously well-organized and he’s in charge of and awful lot more than just hitting balls with me. Not everyone knows what goes into a tennis player’s day-to-day life, but it’s very, very complicated.
For a start, there are 500 players looking for a practice court. You need to find the right people to practice with, and make sure you get to the right courts at the right time. You have to sort out the balls and make sure that the player you’ve working with doesn’t forget anything. And at the end of it all you have to make sure that the whole team is where they should be and at the right time.
One of the qualities that they have to demonstrate is that they can follow instructions from someone like Ivan and make sure you’re doing all the right drills, because that’s a vital part of your coaching.
If that makes it sound like Dani is just a robot, he isn’t He’s very independent voice with his own opinions about the way that things are set up, and I know how much Ivan has appreciated what he has done both for him and me. Dani is the guy who works with me 40 weeks per year. And those are full weeks, packed full of very, very, hard work for both of us. He takes care of the small details extremely well and all of those small details add up to a huge part of the overall picture. Itvs because for Dani’s hard work that I’ve never turn up for practice and find no one else there. He checks the weather in advance to make sure we don’t have a two-hour practice session scheduled when thunderstorm are forecast, and a if there is he’ll have and indoor court booked and a practice partner for me who with is happy to go indoors.
When you have a tournament coming up, whether it’s Wimbledon, the US Open or one of the smaller tournaments, you need someone who is on top of all the details to allow you to focus solely on your game. Dani does all of that, but he also understands me. He’s known me since I was 15 and can tell whether I’m genuinely upset or just having a bit of moan. That can be during matches, when we’re practicing or elsewhere. He also knows when I’m moaning about something I don’t really care about or if I’m nervous and so it’s better not to engage me in conversation. Having someone around like him is vital.
Dani and I have a friend called Carlos Mier from Peru. I first met him when I went over to Spain and he, Dani and I have been friends ever since. In the ten years I’ve known him, nothing changed. Because of the way tennis works, it is difficult to have time to see 20 different friends. It is a small group and the guys are very special to me. Carlos Dani and I were attached at the hip at the Academy. We’ve been really good friends for a long time and he’s a fun person to be around. Importantly, he couldn’t care less that I’ve been successful. Of course he’s happy for me, but it wouldn’t matter to him if I was just a middle- or low-ranked player. He treats me exactly the same way and that’s why I like him so much. It is me that matters to him, not what I accomplished.
© Andy Murray 2013. Extracted from Andy Murray: Seventy-Seven: My Road to Wimbledon Glory.