All around Andy Murray these past couple of weeks it has been mayhem. A whole continent has convulsed. Leaders have been toppled. Politicians have demonstrated their complete and utter granny-selling ruthlessness. In sport, proud nations have been humiliated while in Murray’s chosen speciality, one-day wonders have flickered and crashed.
Meanwhile the man himself has been unflustered, unflappable and unperturbed by all the chaos elsewhere.
Sometimes Murray has been asked questions about the much less ordered and certain world outside his own. What does he think about Brexit? What does he think about the Tory leadership contest? What does he think about England being gubbed by Iceland at football? Sometimes he has answered, other times he has kept his counsel, but none of his responses has been allowed to run and run as an “Andy story” or an “Andy row”. Nothing can, or will, deflect him from the task in hand.
The only responses that matter now are his returns to Milos Raonic’s sledgehammer serve.
On Court 19 yesterday morning he was practising for the task. A big crowd gathered in the sunshine to watch coach Jamie Delgado being ordered eight feet in from the baseline to serve at our man, in an attempt to replicate what’s going to be coming down the line just after 2pm this afternoon. Delgado had been posted there by Ivan Lendl, the super-coach, Ol’ Stoneface himself. Although the impassive Czech might have a young rival in these stakes. The pupil is learning fast how it is to be cool.
It’s not that Murray is chilly and emotionless like Lendl, the Ice Man, was in his playing days. Murray needs to be emotional on the court, and wants the crowd to be, too. A couple of times in the run to the final he has had to shake them out of late-afternoon lethargy. It’s not that, in the tightest spot of the run – blowing a two-set lead over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and being taken to a fifth – he didn’t shout “There’s NO WAY I’m losing this match.” He did.
But at all other times on court and off, while David Cameron and Roy Hodgson and Chris Evans were having a quindecim horribilis – a fairly rocky fortnight – Murray has seemed like the most calm and composed man in the world, utterly sure of where he was headed and what he was going to achieve when he got there.
What a contrast with his last major before Lendl re-emerged from his walk-in freezer. At the French Open a man in a light blue shirt enraged Murray by moving around in his seat as the player was about to serve. Murray wanted him out of his eyeline, out of Paris, on that space rocket soon bound for Jupiter.
This isn’t to say that if the final doesn’t go his way, if Raonic’s serve proves beyond even the game’s great returner, that there won’t be a small semi-controlled explosion on his side of the net. As we know, he’s an emotional man. But he’ll be doing his best to channel those emotions positively, route them the way that leads to glory.
Murray is always careful to spread the credit around. Lendl has been important to this charge, obviously, but every time the super-coach’s name gets mentioned, he mentions the rest of Team Murray. Then there’s the super-support from his wife and their daughter, who can’t say anything yet but is already inspiring him.
Ultimately, though, it’s all down to our man. He’s the one who has to stand on that court, bad-bounce brown at either end, for sometimes as long as four hours while footballers at Euro 2016, great at what they do but with ten others around them, are told they don’t have to rush back for pre-season training.
There can be no equivalent of the half-time team-talk from Lendl. It is Murray who stands up to every big boomer, chases every drop-shot, rampages across every blade of grass or what’s left of it in shoes that look too clumpy, almost like ski boots. And when he loses a final, which he has done quite often, sometimes in the most gut-wrenching of circumstances, everybody will try to pick him up but it is Murray who must perform most of the psychological heavy lifting before deciding: “I’m going to try again.”
Then, after a match, he must talk about it. Sometimes the questions seek scientific answers designed for the trainspottery back pages of a tennis magazine. Other times they’re trying to secure a funny line for the front page of a racy tabloid.
What does he eat for breakfast? He tells them. Watermelon or honeydew? He answers that. Is he really interested in the Tory leadership contest? “And not forgetting the Labour leadership contest,” he deadpans.
Best of all: how does it feel – with this post-Brexit land not having a prime minister or even a Top Gear presenter - being its last hope? He smiles, says he’s not, that he’s just trying to win a tennis tournament and make everyone happy.
Andy Murray has played a blinder the whole two weeks. Just one more day, one more match, to go …