WITH two Grand Slam titles in Andy Murray’s grasp and an Olympic championship to boot, many people appear to think that his next target will be – or should be – world No 1.
The Scot has beaten Novak Djokovic, the current holder of the coveted top spot, in both the US Open final and the Wimbledon final, so it may seem logical to aim to displace him in the rankings.
But Murray himself has other priorities. He knows that the way the points stand at present, it would be some time before he could expect to come close to Djokovic.
For a start, he will lose 750 points next month, when his total for winning the gold medal at London 2012 comes off. His Serbian rival, whom he beat in the semi-final and who lost out in the bronze-medal play-off to Juan Martin del Potro, will lose a lot fewer.
However, there is a more important motivation for Murray than the fact that gaining the No 1 ranking will be tough. Quite simply, he does not regard it as an end in itself – or at least, certainly not when compared to some of the other prizes on offer.
“It is a tough one for me,” he explained yesterday when asked about his hopes of getting to the top of the tree for the first time. “Right now I’ve won two slams and [been in] the final of a third one and I hold the Olympic gold – and I’m nowhere near being No 1. I don’t know exactly why that is. Maybe I need to be more consistent in the other events. And missing the French obviously didn’t help that.
“If I never get to No 1? I would rather not get to No 1 and win more grand slams.”
Now 26, Murray, when near the start of his career, had a similar attitude to the British No 1 ranking. These were the days when Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were still competing, and at a decent level too. Henman got as high as No 4 in the world, while Rusedski had been in a grand slam final, the 1997 US Open.
So to be the top male tennis player in Britain was no negligible achievement. But Murray always reasoned that it would come about automatically if he kept improving his results, and that it should therefore not be seen as an end in itself.
As well as looking ahead to the coming months and years, Murray yesterday allowed himself another glance back at those remarkable events of Sunday, when he beat Djokovic in straight sets. The first man he thanked at the end of the match was Ivan Lendl – a former world No 1, incidentally – but as well as praising the coach he also made sure to thank everyone else in his team, past and present.
“I just said ‘Thanks so much for everything you’ve done for me’,” he explained when asked what he had told Lendl at the end of the final. “And he just said he was proud of me.
“He’s been a huge help. No doubt about that. But also I can’t forget everyone else that’s been part of the journey I’ve been through since I came on the tour.
“I’ve been through quite a few coaches. The rest of my team have pretty much stayed the same for the last six years or so, been through all the ups and down. Seen all of that. And they’ve stuck by me as well.
“And Ivan has made a huge difference. It is quite clear to see in my results since I started working with him. But the rest of the guys have also been fantastic over the years.”
The other person of whom he made special mention was partner Kim Sears. “The one thing that really helped with her is that she understands the sport, because she’s been around it from a young age. She was used to her dad travelling on the tour from when she was a kid. Knew what it was like to have that distant relationship.
“And that’s obviously helped a lot. It’s been coming up to eight years, bar a few months in the middle, we’ve been together. A long time.”
Murray received messages of congratulations from hundreds of famous people in the 24 hours following his win, among them David Beckham, with whom he shares a management company. One of the most significant interventions in Murray’s two weeks at Wimbledon came from Beckham’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose advice in a private 15-minute conversation was like “gold dust”, according to the world No 2.
Having finally retired from football management, Sir Alex appears to have learned to take things easy. “I got a message from him yesterday and this morning. He’s going on a cruise up the coast of Scotland, so he wasn’t able to come.
“He said to me that he always wanted to do that. It’s like ten days it takes, and he’s never done it in his life because he’d never take ten days off from his work.
“An unbelievable work ethic over such a long period of time. Spending 15 minutes with him – he’s an impressive guy. Really, really impressive. And you can learn a lot from him.”
Murray has also learned from his friend and fellow-professional Ross Hutchins, who was diagnosed with cancer in December. “Over the first few months of this year, especially, it changes your perspective on things for sure. He’s obviously extremely young to have something like that. Very shocking.
“I said to a few of the guys that when someone asks you how you are feeling after my semi-final in Australia at the beginning of the year, you think twice. It’s really not that bad in comparison to what he was going through. Definitely changes your perspective on things.”
1 Novak Djokovic (Ser) 12310
2 Andy Murray (Gbr) 9360
3 David Ferrer (Spa) 7220
4 Rafael Nadal (Spa) 6860
5 Roger Federer (Swi) 5785
6 Tomas Berdych (Cze) 4865
7 Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) 4500
8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) 3480
9 Richard Gasquet (Fra) 3045
10 Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi) 2915
11 Tommy Haas (Ger) 2605
12 Kei Nishikori (Jpn) 2495
13 Marin Cilic (Cro) 2335
14 Janko Tipsarevic (Ser) 2310
15 Milos Raonic (Can) 2225
16 Nicolas Almagro (Spa) 2195
17 Jerzy Janowicz (Pol) 2154
18 Gilles Simon (Fra) 2055
19 John Isner (USA) 1770
20 Juan Monaco (Arg) 1740
1 Serena Williams (USA) 11895
2 Maria Sharapova (Rus) 9235
3 Victoria Azarenka (Blr) 8825
4 Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) 5965
5 Na Li (Chn) 5555
6 Sara Errani (Ita) 5180
7 Marion Bartoli (Fra) 4675
8 Petra Kvitova (Cze) 4435
9 Angelique Kerber (Ger) 3970
10 Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 3660
11 Roberta Vinci (Ita) 3060
12 Maria Kirilenko (Rus) 2976
13 Samantha Stosur (Aus) 2965
14 Jelena Jankovic (Ser) 2925
15 Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) 2906
16 Sloane Stephens (USA) 2870
17 Ana Ivanovic (Ser) 2740
18 Sabine Lisicki (Ger) 2650
19 Nadia Petrova (Rus) 2505
20 Carla Suarez-Navarro (Spa) 2440