Murray's focus still on improvement

SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY: The past 18 months have been pretty incredible, what have been the biggest lessons that you've learned in that time?

ANDY MURRAY: I've had to learn how to compete at a much higher level - in the bigger events every round is tough and you can't afford to lose focus. I did a lot of growing over the past couple of years and I'm now starting to be able to focus on building strength and speed.

SoS: Have you had to change to deal with it all?

AM: I don't think so.

SoS: More guarded or suspicious of people?

AM: There are definitely more people looking to give you advice when you start to get successful and I guess you just have to be smart about who you listen to.

SoS: In what areas has your game improved over the past 18 months?

AM: I've got more solid all round but in the last six months I've improved my first and second serve, am hitting bigger more often with my forehand and trying to come to the net more.

SoS: Was there any one match which taught you more than most?

AM: The Davydenko match at the US Open when I was way behind and then got myself into a position to change the match around in the third set but lost my focus, played a couple of sloppy points and let him back in.

SoS: What are the best and worst aspects of fame?

AM: Best is playing on the show courts in the major events - the slams and the masters series - and the worst is getting delayed at airports.

SoS: Did you believe you could be 17th in the world this early in your career?

AM: Probably not - I was aiming for top 50 at the start of this year and I got there when I won San Jose in February.

SoS: Who has been your biggest influence as you find your feet at the top of the sport?

AM: Brad Gilbert my coach has helped me a lot, so has my physio Jean-Pierre Bruyere and my agent Patricio Apey.

SoS: What difference has Brad made?

AM: He isn't really a technical guy - he talks more on tactics and the mental side of the game. He reads the game really well and is great at working out game plans for each opponent.

SoS: What are Brad's greatest assets?

AM: He is a great tactician and he also played at the highest level - he got to No.4 in the world himself. I wanted him to work with me because of his track record with Andre Agassi.

SoS: Do you get a word in edgeways over dinner?

AM: No, he talks more than anyone I have ever met but he is really good fun.

SoS: Does it ever get tough on tour spending so much time with a guy old enough to be your dad, especially if he's been a real slavemaster that day?

AM: Not really because he is really upbeat and in to all sports - American ones mostly - and has loads of great tennis stories from his days on tour. The only thing we really disagree on is music - he likes Foreigner who I had never heard of and he hates my 50 Cent and Eminem stuff.

SoS: Have any of the many rumours about you amused or infuriated you?

AM: I read recently that I had got engaged to my girlfriend - totally made up that was. And the anti-England chat around World Cup time was very annoying because something I said as a joke was turned in to a huge deal.

SoS: Biggest highlight of your time on the tour?

AM: Beating Federer, winning my first title in San Jose and winning my debut Davis Cup match v Israel in 2005.

SoS: Biggest disappointment?

AM: Any time I don't play well in tournaments I get disappointed but I just have to think of it as just one more match and work harder on the practice court.

SoS: What work have you done on strength and stamina?

AM: I am still growing so I have to be careful to protect my body for the long term but I've started working with a fitness trainer called Mark Grabow in California and that is a priority for me in the off season; speed off the mark and developing more strength in my upper body, core and legs.

SoS: Toughest opponent?

AM: So far, Nalbandian.

SoS: When you first played at Wimbledon you said you felt you hadn't earned the right to be alongside the top players in the locker room? Has that attitude changed now?

AM: When I won my first title I started to get a bit more accepted by the top players and more so when I beat Federer in Cincinatti in August.

SoS: Best friend in the locker room?

AM: Sebastian Grosjean, Novak Djokovic and Tim Henman.

SoS: Have any big names been a disappointment when you've met them? Has anyone left you feeling awestruck?

AM: I was a bit tongue-tied when I met Beckham but he was such a humble guy, so normal for someone who is such a major celebrity and has so much attention to deal with.

SoS: What advice would you give a young player who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AM: Find a good experienced coach, work hard and take advantage of all the opportunities."

SoS: How do you cope with the loneliness of life on the road?

AM: I have my portable PlayStation, my laptop and my iPod - never go anywhere without them.

SoS: Has Brad introduced you to the minutiae of US sports? Are you an Oakland Raiders fan?

AM: He is trying to get me in to the Raiders - he bought me a cap and talks about them non-stop. If I want to piss him off I slag off the Raiders!

SoS: Is he a Barca fan?

AM: No, he doesn't like proper football!

SoS: You have played quite a bit of doubles with brother Jamie recently. What is the difference mentally in your approach to doubles?

AM: I like playing with Jamie - he is a much better volleyer than me and he is tactically very good at doubles because he trains specifically for that, but I return well and my serve is getting bigger all the time so we match up pretty well. Sometimes I get nervous playing with him but it's only because I don't want to let him down.

SoS: Is your doubles partnership something you would like to build on? Especially with Davis Cup in mind?

AM: Singles is always going to be my priority but I enjoy doubles and it's very important in the Davis Cup to have an established team.

SoS: Do you get on well when you catch up or is there the usual sibling bickering and wind-ups?

AM: We get on pretty well but we like winding each other up. Well, I like winding him up.

SoS: Aberdeen Cup - Scotland v England, following the World Cup comments do you expect a tougher time this year?

AM: The crowd will be mainly Scottish as it's in Aberdeen but there was a great atmosphere last year and I'm hoping that most of the support will be for Scotland again this year.

SoS: Were you taken aback by some of the backlash at the time?

AM: Yes, it was blown out of proportion.

SoS: Who is the most impressive person you have met in the past 18 months?

AM: I really enjoyed meeting Alex Arthur the boxer. He came to watch me at Wimbledon and we talk regularly on the phone. I love boxing and he's a really great guy.

SoS: Obviously you love representing GB at Davis Cup, is it an even more intense pride to be representing Scotland?

AM: Yes, I am Scottish first and British second, but in tennis you can't represent Scotland, just Britain, so the Aberdeen Cup is almost a one-off opportunity to play for your country.

SoS: Wimbledon is usually the closest you come to a "home" crowd in top tournaments. Why is the Aberdeen Cup so important - do you get a kick out of the support from the crowd? Do you think it will encourage more Scottish youngsters to follow your example?

AM: It's good to have a major tennis event in Scotland and the closer you can get kids to the top players, the more chance you have of inspiring them to believe they can achieve something too.

SoS: Although it is a "friendly" tournament, everyone knows you hate losing, so how seriously do you take it?

AM: I take every match seriously. It will be good fun but I want another Scottish victory at the end of the weekend.

SoS: After your Gran's shortbread, what do you miss most when you are on the road?

AM: I miss seeing my friends and family but I've been travelling a lot overseas since I was about 12 so I'm used to it now.

SoS: What will you treat yourself to if the money keeps rolling in?

AM: I would like to buy an apartment, probably in London, and I'd like to buy a car sometime soon but I'll have to pass my driving test first.

SoS: Tell the truth, did you rig the website voting so you could avoid the buzz cut?

AM: No way - it was heading for a grade 4 all over and I was psyching myself up for that but then 5 Live and Newsround did a feature on it and seven thousand people voted in one day and that turned it round. So it's short at the back and messy on top as voted by the fans and it's scheduled for Thursday 23 November. I've bought a scarf already!

SoS: You like reality TV shows ... would you ever consider doing a celebrity Big Brother or I'm A Celebrity?

AM: Not at the moment.

SoS: Where do you like to holiday and how do you relax?

AM: I just went to Miami for eight days, did a bit of jet skiing, parasailing, swimming with the dolphins, met some alligators! It was really good - first holiday since I was about 13.

SoS: What are the plans between the Aberdeen Cup and the Australian Open?

AM: I'm going to California to work with Brad and [fitness trainer] Mark Grabow up to about 22 December then I am coming home for a few days at Christmas, then heading to Doha for the first tourney of 2007. I'm going to play doubles with my brother so he will travel with me.

SoS: Now you are in the higher echelons, are you able to pick and chose tournaments more? Will your schedules change because of that?

AM: Yes, my schedule will be better planned this year. Brad and I will look much more carefully at the travelling involved, the surfaces and the climates so that I have more rest time and more preparation time for the major events. This summer I did about six weeks in a row at one point and that was too much.

SoS: You have surpassed your targets for this season. What are the goals for next year?

AM: Not setting any goals for next year - just want to improve my game and my fitness.

SoS: When is it realistic to expect to see you making Grand Slam finals or even winning them?

AM: Give me another 18 months and then hopefully I will be close to my best.

SoS: A lot of fans love to see you being so passionate about the match. Is that fighting character always going to be part of your play?

AM: Yes, it's just the way I am - I just do what I feel.

SoS: A lot of players, especially the Americans love their poker, are you any good at it?

AM: I like poker - at the Madrid Masters series there was a poker teacher giving lessons daily in the player lounge and there was a tourney each day at 5pm. I didn't play but Brad beat Bob Bryan in the final of one of them and got a set of crystal vases!

SoS: Who would you love to meet?

AM: Mohammad Ali.

SoS: You love the US Open and the clay courts of the French Open but would winning Wimbledon mean more, simply because of the British desire for a homegrown champion?

AM: All players want to win a slam. I wouldn't mind which one if it happened, but my best surface is hard courts so I think my best chance would be at the US Open.