If THERE is no rest for the wicked then there is absolutely no peace for the virtuous and the diligent.
Andy Murray may have won Wimbledon on Sunday causing celebrations up and down the land – and more than a few hangovers on Monday morning – but already he is planning his next campaign, his next practice session and his next chance of victory. Ivan Lendl would not have it any other way.
He just about managed to fit an hour’s sleep between leaving the Wimbledon Champions’ Dinner, a black tie do in the heart of London, and flinging himself back on to the media merry-go-round yesterday. Everyone with a microphone, a notebook or a camera wanted a part of him: how did he feel? What was it like to be a Wimbledon winner? He answered every question and he smiled and signed autographs but he looked and sounded shattered.
The physical effort of winning the trophy was draining enough but the three sets and three hours it took to beat Novak Djokovic on Centre Court were not as brutal as the five sets and nearly five hours it took him to beat the Serb at the US Open last September. Or the four sets and almost four hours it Djokovic to beat him in the Australian Open final. No, it was the mental strain of coping with the weeks of pressure leading into Wimbledon and the unbelievable levels of expectation – both from without and within – to get the job done in these past two weeks that had left him drained. Murray was hanging on by his fingertips for a few days off to rest, relax and celebrate. And he needs to recharge his batteries because he knows what is coming next.
“I know that in Ivan’s head, he’s not content with how the last 18 months have gone,” Britain’s first male Wimbledon champion in 77 years said, somewhat alarmingly. “He will think that I could have won the Australian Open this year and he’ll be wanting to get me ready for the US Open and he’ll train me really hard over in Miami.”
South Florida is Murray’s training sanctuary. He retreats to his condo there every winter to get a little sun on his back as he prepares for the start of the new season and the Australian Open. But when he goes there in the summer for his training block prior to the American hard court season, the place is like a sauna: fiercely hot and unbearably humid. If he can work himself narrow in those conditions then he will be ready to take on anything at the Masters events in Montreal and Cincinnati and the US Open in New York.
But the unknown factor is how he will feel about his workload now that he has achieved his three main goals: winning his first grand slam, winning Wimbledon and winning Olympic gold.
That is where he thinks Ivan Lendl, his coach and mentor, will be invaluable in keeping complacency at bay. With Lendl at his side, Murray thinks he will be as keen and as hungry as ever when he returns to New York.
“I don’t know exactly how I am going to respond to this because I haven’t got back on the practice court or in the gym again,” he said cautiously, “but I think it’s the people who are around, they can help a lot with that as well.
“I think it’s huge having someone in your corner like Ivan. He was literally the ultimate competitor in many ways. He loved winning. His consistency was amazing – he made eight consecutive US Open finals and there was no let down for him and I hope having him in my corner will help out a lot.
“My goal is to try and win more grand slams. The No 1 ranking would be a great achievement, it’s a very difficult thing to do, but if I was picking one? I want to try and win another grand slam and I’ll try and defend my US Open title in a few weeks.”
As for going off the rails, Murray is pretty sure he will avoid that particular danger. He has been a very wealthy man for many years and still his tastes are simple while the fame-game holds no fascination for him. And Murray actually loves his job, even the graft and the tedium of training and practice.
“I’m not like addicted to going out or drinking or smoking. I don’t do any of that sort of stuff. I just enjoy being around my friends, I enjoy training. I like being over in Miami and I don’t think I will get side-tracked but you never know.
“And, yeah, you see it a lot in other sports because with fame there comes a lot of distractions and, again, it comes down to the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with the right people you won’t get yourself in those situations.
“The people who are actually honest with you will tell you if you are acting out of line, or if you’re not working properly or you’re doing the wrong things, they’ll tell you. I believe I have the right people to stop me doing anything like that so I don’t see it happening.”
Although he tries everything possible to keep himself cut off from the hype and the hoopla that always surrounds him at Wimbledon, Murray cannot avoid it all. After eight years on the tour, he is well versed in the ways of the media and as soon as he hears the first couple of questions in his post-match press conference, he knows exactly what will be written about him in the following day’s papers.
But now that he has finally ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a Wimbledon champion, the pressure upon him can never be as great again. As he said on Sunday: “Now I can just play tennis.”
So, if he can play well enough to win Wimbledon while still burdened the weight of history and 77 years of disappointment on his shoulders, just imagine what the future holds now that Murray is finally free.