World No 2 Andy Murray is refusing to give up the chase for more grand slam glory, even as he prepares for a return from his longest in- season break from tennis.
Murray has not played competitive tennis since his defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final almost a month ago, with the Scot putting sport on hold following the birth of his first child – a daughter, Sophia Olivia – on 7 February.
Focus now turns to the Davis Cup as defending champions GB face Japan in their World Group tie in Birmingham from Friday to Sunday, and Murray will once again be expected to lead the charge.
He does have the cloud hanging over him of not winning a grand slam since his Wimbledon triumph in 2013, but Murray said: “When I lost the Wimbledon 2012 final I didn’t know if I’d ever win a slam.
“Then when I won the US Open they were asking: ‘What’s going to happen now?’ I thought: ‘It’s taken me this long to win one I don’t know if I’ll win another.’ And now that I’ve not won one for a couple of years I don’t know if I’ll win another one. But I believe I still can. I’ve been close the last year. I had my best French Open. At Wimbledon I was playing extremely well and it took [Roger] Federer to play an unbelievable match.
“I can definitely still win more slams. I’ve just got to take the chances when they come.”
Whether fatherhood actually has any quantitative impact on Murray’s grand slam chances remains to be seen, but the Scot at least has plenty of familiar faces around him with the same life-changing experience – Federer and Djokovic to name two.
“I don’t know if having kids has made them [Federer and Djokovic] play better or if they’re just really good,” Murray said. “But [fatherhood] is a positive thing – and tennis not being your priority can help.
“It lends perspective when you have a bad loss or bad practice. The outcome of a match is not everything but I want my daughter to be proud of her dad when she grows up and sees what I did.”
The story of team GB’s victory over Belgium in last year’s Davis Cup final will certainly be one of the things Murray can regale his daughter with, as the reigning Olympic champion prepares for another gruelling run in 2016.
“Last year the toughest team we played was France and they didn’t have anyone ranked as high as [Japan’s Kei] Nishikori,” Murray said. “He’s obviously capable of winning two singles.
“I lost to him once at the World Tour finals in 2014. We’ve played six times so I’ve won five. But he’s one of the best players in the world and I won’t have played a match for almost five weeks.
“That’s the longest break I’ve ever had at this stage of the season. There are no guarantees but, hopefully, I can play well and help the team win.”