THE private jet is on stand-by just in case his wife goes into labour earlier than expected; his coach, Amelie Mauresmo, pictured right, is in town with her six-month-old son, Aaron, to give him an insight into what awaits him when his baby does arrive; and his first match at the Australian Open is just 36 hours away. All things considered, Andy Murray is looking remarkably relaxed. Murray’s wife, Kim, is due to deliver their first child next month and with the big moment only a matter of weeks away, the world No.2 could be forgiven for being a little distracted.
He has already said that the minute his phone rings with news that the baby is on its way, he will be off and running to the airport. He may be 11,000 miles away from home and it may take a good 24 hours to get back to London, but there will be no stopping him.
So, when one journalist wondered if he would feel the same way if that call came on the eve of the Australian Open final with Murray just one match away from winning his third grand slam trophy, Scotland’s finest looked horrified.
“For me, my child is more important to me, and my wife is more important to me than a tennis match,” he said, sounding utterly taken aback. Like all expectant fathers, he has his plan formulated for the big day and that could involve a private jet to get him to a connecting international flight to get him to Kim’s bedside in time.
“I guess it would depend on when I would get the call,” he said. “A private jet is an option, maybe not the whole way but to get to a connecting flight. That’s a possibility. As soon as I get the call I would just go for it I guess. I think most days I think about [the baby arriving]. Just now it’s a big change, you know, coming. It’s very, very exciting. I’m sure everyone that’s had their first child in here would have thought the same thing with just a few weeks to go.
“Again, I’ve never been in this position, so it’s something new for me to deal with and handle, which is good. New experiences are always good, something to learn from.
“But, yeah, when I’m on the practice court and stuff, I’m very focused there. When I’ve been training, not distracted on that side of things. Just obviously after your practices and when you’re away from the court, it’s a bit different.”
Mauresmo’s return to the team may be part of the reason why Murray seems so relaxed. From the moment the two started working together, it was clear that they clicked professionally and personally. When she announced that she was pregnant just after the Open last year, Murray was sorry that he would be losing her as his coach but he never sounded anything other than delighted for her as she moved into a new phase of her life. Now that she has made the decision to come back, he could not be happier. And the fact that she has brought young Aaron with her has certainly brought a smile to Murray’s face.
“Her boy has been great,” he said. “He has come to a few dinners and stuff and been really well behaved. It looks easy I guess when you see a baby for an hour and a half per day. It’s been good, she seems to be handling everything very well and it hasn’t affected her.
“I know now that when you are just a few weeks away from giving birth that, you know, that it’s not easy to be concentrated exactly on what it is that you’re doing but I think for her, it’s clear that she really wants to do the job, that she’s wanted to come back and do it and travel and be part of the team. That gives me confidence as well that she believes in me and thinks that I can achieve the biggest prizes. So that was nice for me that she wanted to commit to doing the job.”
After a week together in Dubai to get some serious training in before Christmas, Murray and Mauresmo are back in the old routine. His off-season was curtailed by his Davis Cup heroics at the end of November so he is planning on taking February off to rest and recover from the stresses of 2015 – although quite how much rest he will get with a new baby around is anyone’s guess. No doubt he will learn that lesson the hard way. Still, with Mauresmo to guide him now and then to get him back up to speed after the baby is born, Murray is confident that all will be well.
“The communication is very good,” he said of their relationship. “We are able to talk about practising, the game, and as much as that might sound basic it’s not always an easy thing to do to open up to your coaches if you’re feeling really bad, or feeling really nervous. Things like that are not always that easy but with her it is easy and that has helped a lot in the past.
“And her experience of being around these events, what it takes to win them, is important, too. She won here and had some good runs here as a player. She worked extremely hard, was one of the fitter women so she pushes me in practice and training and I need that at this stage of my career. It’s important to have someone who is motivated and if she wasn’t motivated to do the job she wouldn’t have come back to do it.”
Her first responsibility will be to get Murray ready for his opening match on Tuesday against Alexander Zverev, the world No.83 from Germany. The 6ft 6in beanpole is a talent for the future but at the age of only 18, he is far from the finished article. Even so, Murray will be taking nothing for granted and having played him a couple of weeks ago at the Hopman Cup – and having beaten him in straight sets – he has had a taste of what young Zverev has to offer.
“I know him reasonably well,” Murray said. “I practised with him for the first time a couple years ago. I’ve seen him play a few matches since then. Obviously getting to play him a couple of weeks ago was good. I also practised with him a couple of times during the week in Perth, too.
“He’s a big guy obviously for his age. Of the young guys coming through, he is by far the tallest of them, which has obvious benefits. At the age he’s at just now, it can cause a few issues as well until you kind of fill out into your physique.
“But he’s got a very good game. He serves well. For a big guy, moves pretty well, too. He’s obviously improving all the time. He finished last year well, too. I think he made the semis of the tournament in Stockholm. It will be a tough match.”
Zverev, though, is the least of Murray’s concerns. For the moment, his phone remains reassuringly silent – the Australian Open is there for the playing. But if that phone rings, all bets are off and Melbourne will not see Andy Murray for dust.