Sunday 17 November 2019

Andy Murray: Before US Open victory I doubted if I would ever win a Grand Slam

Andy Murray sat with the US Open trophy on Tuesday afternoon, in the luxurious confines of the British consul’s apartment in Manhattan, and poured out his heart about the twisting and often treacherous path that had led him to this epic achievement.

Above all, he admitted, Monday night’s victory had brought blessed relief from the doubts that had assailed him. Murray has never been too bothered about where anyone else rated him in the pantheon of tennis greats. It was his own self-confidence that was the issue, because he had moments when he feared he would never achieve his life’s dream.

“I always felt when I was younger it was going to happen,” Murray said, “but the older you get, you do start to doubt it. At the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, they were two very close matches [against Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer respectively] and I got so close.

“I wouldn’t say I was preparing for it not to happen but you do start to think that way. Before the match yesterday I was doubting myself, thinking about the match and how tough it will be, if I would be able to do it or not. I am just glad I have done it and I hope it’s not the only Grand Slam I can win.”

The next step, of course, is to build on this breakthrough. In the past, British sport has perhaps shown a tendency to enjoy success too much, but that is not Murray’s way. After the final, he shared a meal with his support staff, but didn’t touch a drop of alcohol. “The problem was that when I arrived, everyone was so drunk already,” he said. “It would have taken a while to catch up so I didn’t bother.”

On Tuesday night he flew back to his home in England, and his next concrete appointment is likely to be the Olympic parade in Glasgow on Friday. “It’s a shame I missed the one in London, but I would like to try to go back for the one in Glasgow,” he said.

“I’d also like to go home and see my family and just be around them. I obviously haven’t got to see them that much and they’ve always supported me. But I would also like to get a few days to myself just to take everything in and just be normal for a few days before doing any of that.”

The other note in his diary concerns a phone chat with his coach, Ivan Lendl, where they will discuss the rest of the tennis season. There may be no more Grand Slams at stake before the Australian Open in January, but a strong run through the Asian swing and then at the ATP World Tour Finals in December would give Murray a shot at his next goal of climbing to the top of the world rankings.

“I spoke to Ivan briefly after the match,” he said. “We’re going to have a chat on Friday or Saturday and I’m going to let things sink in over the next few days.

“He didn’t come out for dinner with us,” Murray added with a smile. “He’s so focused when I’m playing the matches, he just kept telling everyone how dead he was after the match and how tired he was. I was like: ‘You weren’t the one playing.’ But he’s been through many, matches like that, so he knows how tough it is.”

Murray spent Tuesday morning touring the TV studios around New York and appearing on every breakfast show known to man. He was articulate and composed, which was a decent effort in view of the fact he was coming off just 90 minutes’ sleep. The first show – “This Morning” on CBS – insisted that he arrive on set at 7am.

“It’s hard to explain how it feels,” he added. “You probably saw from my reaction I was in a bit of shock, and after that I was just very relieved. And I wasn’t able to sleep last night. I wasn’t bouncing off the walls or anything, I just couldn’t go to sleep, I was sitting awake for a few hours.

“Normally during the tournament if I’d had an hour-and-a-half of sleep and I’d had to get up I would have been in the worst mood ever. I woke up and jumped out of bed at 6.30am which isn’t like me. I was obviously very excited. But I don’t think it has sunk in yet and it will probably take a while.

“It took a lot of sacrifices from both my parents to give me and Jamie the opportunity to play tennis. So it’s nice after the last couple of months to have kind of repaid them in a way for the sacrifices they made when we were younger. Family is the most important thing and they’ve given me a lot of help, especially when I needed it after Wimbledon and tough moments in my career.”

By Simon Briggs

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