Andy Murray was every inch the proud new father as he prepared to return to his day job and lead Great Britain in the defence of their Davis Cup trophy against Japan.
The world No 2 has left wife Kim and three-week-old daughter Sophia at home in Surrey for the first-round tie at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena, which begins on Friday.
Murray prizes his privacy but was more than happy to discuss his experiences of becoming a parent and revealed Kim and Sophia will be travelling with him to a tournament in Miami later this month.
The 28-year-old’s last competitive appearance was a fifth Australian Open final defeat by Novak Djokovic, after which he ran out of Melbourne Park to catch the first flight home.
In the event, he did not have to worry about missing the birth, with Sophia arriving a week later, ensuring he could experience the full labour.
Murray cited that as the biggest surprise of parenthood so far, saying: “It was very different to what I expected.
“It’s an amazing experience but it’s also difficult to see someone you care about go through that. I knew it wasn’t going to be like in the movies or on the TV [when] you see the last 20 seconds, you don’t see everything that goes on beforehand.”
Luckily for Murray, he has not yet experienced one of the main trials of having a baby – sleep deprivation.
He said: “She has been sleeping very well the first few weeks. Without getting particularly graphic, there’s nothing much I can do.
“She is waking up because she wants to be fed and unfortunately my body doesn’t produce any milk. I can’t help too much there. In the night I would stay up with her as late as is needed while Kim was asleep.”
Murray will hope becoming a father has the same effect on him as it has on Djokovic, who has been nigh on unbeatable since the birth of Stefan 16 months ago.
He will get his first taste of how things will play out on Friday, when he takes on Japan No 2 Taro Daniel – an American-born Led Zeppelin fan ranked 87th in the world.
Murray said: “I still practise hard and do all the same things I was doing before. I will find out if it is different on Friday or not. But it can only be a positive thing.
“I don’t see it being negative at all, in terms of my career. And it is not the end of the world if it is as I now have something more important.”
With his new commitments and the effort it took to pull off Britain’s shock win in the tournament last year, it would perhaps not have been surprising had Murray taken a step back from the competition.
But he revealed he is planning to play in all Britain’s ties this year, including a potential quarter-final against Djokovic’s Serbia in July sandwiched in between Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Murray, who confirmed he has appointed former British player Jamie Delgado as his assistant coach, said: “If I’m fit I will play for sure against Serbia or Kazakhstan.”
Captain Leon Smith will announce his team ahead of the draw on Thursday but has a potential injury problem to contend with after Kyle Edmund felt a niggle in his back.
The 21-year-old, the highest-ranked singles player available to Smith besides Murray, brought an early end to his practice session but is confident of being fit.
Edmund said: “Being a tennis player you get niggles now and again. Obviously it’s a concern this close to the match but I think I’ll be able to recover in time.”
Edmund and local boy Dan Evans are vying for the No 2 spot, while Murray will see how he feels after Friday’s match before deciding whether to play doubles with his brother, as he did in three of the rounds last year.
The tie could come down to a clash between the number ones on Sunday, when Murray will take on world No 6 Kei Nishikori – the highest-ranked player he has ever faced in the competition.
Nishikori, who has lost five of his six matches against Murray, is not taking much comfort from the Scot’s lay-off, saying: “He did great in Australia so it’s not like he hasn’t played for a long time, so it’s not going to change much.
“[Britain] just won the Davis Cup and they have one of the best teams with Andy and his brother. It’s not going to be easy for us but we have a chance. It’s a great challenge.”