IT IS not the thought of becoming Britain’s first male Wimbledon champion in 76 years that sends a shiver down Andy Murray’s spine. Nor is it the prospect of being one of the favourites for an Olympic gold medal in the singles that causes his palms to sweat.
Instead, it is the dream of winning a doubles medal with his brother Jamie that makes his pulse race and his heart skip a beat.
For all the fame and fortune, for all the singles trophies won – 22 of them so far – and the three appearances in grand slam finals, it is the memory of winning things with his big bro that Murray treasures most. To date, they have won two titles – in Valencia in 2010 and Tokyo last year – but if they were to win an Olympic medal at Wimbledon in August, Murray believes it would be the proudest moment of his life.
“I don’t think it could get any better than that, really,” Murray said. “But it’s so far, so far away. I know what it was like watching Jamie winning the Wimbledon mixed doubles when I wasn’t even playing, and that was fairly emotional for me so I can’t imagine what it would be like winning an Olympic medal.
“There’s very few brother or sister combos that could say that they’ve won titles at the highest level before. It’s a difficult thing to do. Always when I play doubles with Jamie, I want to do well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well because I know it can help him and it’s also his career, as well. To get the chance to play with him at an Olympics is going to be great but, at the same time, it is going to be fairly stressful. Hopefully, the doubles goes well because if it doesn’t then the singles will become a bit tougher.”
Murray, who was officially named as a member of Team GB yesterday, speaks from experience. Four years ago in Beijing, he was wide-eyed with excitement when he moved into the athletes’ village and he loved the whole business of being part of the British team and mixing with elite sportsmen from around the world. Indeed, he was so blown away by the whole experience that he forgot about the day job and lost in the first round in the singles and lost a miserable second-round doubles with his brother. Despite the heat and the humidity of the Chinese summer, the atmosphere between the two brothers was ice-cold.
“I was sharing a room with my brother,” Murray recalled with a wry smile. “It wasn’t a fun place to be after we’d lost in the doubles, that’s for sure.”
But those poor performances galvanised the Scot – “It gave me a kick up the bum,” he said in his own, inimitable way – and a couple of weeks later, he beat Rafael Nadal to reach his first major final at the US Open.
Since then he has grown, matured and learned from his mistakes. When the Olympics rolls around again, he will be a proud participant but he will also be blinkered, focused and utterly committed to the tasks ahead of him.
Even so, the pressure will mount as soon as Murray walks on court with his brother. Although Andy is not a regular on the doubles beat, he is the perfect partner for Jamie, rock solid from the back of the court with an excellent serve and a blistering return. To complement those strengths, Jamie has his speed, range and dexterity at the net. The younger Murray knows that they will not be there merely to make up the numbers this summer – they have a chance to do well provided Andy can keep his nerves in check.
“It probably feels a little bit different because I’m trying my best,” he said. “If I play doubles in Brisbane and lose and I’m not playing doubles with Jamie, I’m just glad that I’ve got time on the court.
“When I play doubles with him, I’m desperate to do well so I’m really disappointed if I don’t play well or feel like I’ve let him down or not played to the best of my ability because, when I do, we play some really good doubles together.
“We’ve had some good wins and we’ve lost a few close ones against like Daniel Nestor And Max Mirnyi and the Bryans, so we can challenge those guys when we both play well. But it takes both of us to put in a good performance.”
If they do that and claim a medal of any description, the world No 4 will be the happiest man in Team GB no matter what happens in the singles.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Andy Murray lost 6-4, 6-4 to Novak Djokovic at the Boodles exhibition event at Stoke Park, his last match before Wimbledon begins on Monday.
The exhibition match was delayed by two hours because of rain and, when the players eventually emerged on a damp court for a second time, it was clear they viewed it as a glorified practice session as they sought to avoid injury before they travelled to SW19.