Tennis: Taste of victory makes Murray hungry for more

By Oliver Brown

In his incarnation as a Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray's sense of contentment is palpable. He spent most of his double training session yesterday inside Montreal's empty Stade Uniprix chattering with Ivan Lendl, not about his volleying technique but about the renaissance of Tiger Woods.

"Did you know he has won his last event before a major 18 times, but only won three of those majors?" Lendl asked him. It was either an impromptu display of the coach's arcane sporting knowledge, or a caution to his protege against thinking too far ahead in the preparations for this month's US Open title defence.

Do not suppose that Murray is still immersing himself every hour in the matchless romance of his maiden Wimbledon coronation. He has already been in Canada for a week, submitting to a punishing regime of up to three practice hours each morning ahead of tonight's first match since the fulfilment of his lifetime's work.

Such is his invigoration, he has even voluntarily accepted extra doubles duties here at the Rogers Cup. When fellow Scot Colin Fleming raced up to him last Friday, desperate for a partner to meet the registration deadline, the world No 2 kindly obliged out of friendship.

"What could I do?" he shrugs, smiling. Indeed, it is refreshing to find that 31 days of acclaim and glad-handing have not altered Murray's essentially generous, understated nature.

On July 7, he achieved all he had ever aspired to on a day of sun-drenched perfection. On August 7, he wields a racket in anger once more, back under scrutiny and back in business.

At 26, he discovers that his hunger to grasp a third Grand Slam in 12 months at Flushing Meadows is insatiable, admitting: "I want to try to win as many I can. It took me a long time to win my first, and I want to give myself another opportunity." Making up for lost time, perhaps.

Otherwise, he has remained assiduously beneath the radar this past month, enjoying a holiday in the Bahamas before heading to Miami for work of boot-camp ferocity. But the initial reaction was one of exhaustion as Murray, his final autograph signed and last tete-a-tete with David Cameron complete, returned to his sprawling ranch in Oxshott for 48 hours of hermitry.

"I spent two days inside my house and I didn't come out," he says. "I was getting followed everywhere so I just stayed inside."

In the aftermath of his historic victory over Novak Djokovic, Murray kept repeating that he could not believe it, but there have been subsequent moments when he has sought to digest the magnitude of his feat.

One arrived at the All England Club, not when he was untying his shoelaces post-match but five days later, as he came back to bid farewell to Doug Dickson, the long-serving locker-room attendant who has just retired. Spontaneously, he decided to go and sit on Centre Court.

"There was nobody there and it was the quietest place I could have gone," he recalls. "They were about to rip up the grass and reseed it. I just sat there on my own, reflecting. That was the coolest experience."

Pensive and introspective, Murray, recast as arguably Britain's premier sporting icon, needs his time away from the maelstrom of publicity that has followed in Wimbledon's wake.

If nothing else, it helps him to readjust to the startling reality of his accomplishment, and to enter that crucial, sometimes fraught phase of establishing the next target. But there is no question, under the tutelage of eight-time slam winner Lendl, he covets more.

Indeed, so blinkered is his focus upon the US Open that he would be prepared to forgo a spell as potential world No 1 - one contest where he still comfortably trails Djokovic - to seize his third major crown.

"Every player would like to be No 1 but I would rather win another Slam or two and not get there," he argues.

The influence of Lendl in forging this mindset cannot be overestimated. For the twin trajectories of mentor and pupil are, thus far, uncannily symmetrical: Lendl lost his first four Slam finals, like Murray, before winning two of his next four.

The Scot has prevailed in two of his last three, and must trust that the prodigious confidence flowing from that turnaround can be sustained in New York. Lendl, who reached an astonishing eight successive US Open finals from 1982, could hardly be more amply qualified to make it so.

Murray, for his part, is deeply appreciative for Lendl's transformation not only of his thinking about his game but of how he views himself.

"I lost my first finals and felt like I was a loser, a choker," he explains. "Speaking to him makes me feel more normal. He went on to become a great tennis player, one of the best of all time. Being able to speak to him on an emotional level really helps."

The next three months are among the busiest in Murray's career but given the degree of positive energy he radiates, few would bet against him adding a third Montreal title come Sunday.

For after the realisation of a Wimbledon dream, the only logical encore is to cement, step by step, his place in the pantheon.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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