But the world number one took time out from his tournament preparations yesterday to enjoy a piece of birthday cake as he turned 30.
The Scot, who will today begin his defence of his Rome Masters title, was surprised by his Italian hosts as he came off the practice court at the city’s Foro Italico venue.
Clutching his racquet bag, he looked surprised as officials serenaded him with a chorus of Happy Birthday before presenting him with the citrus cake. Murray blew out its two candles before thanking the organisers.
With a match less than 24 hours away, Murray only permitted himself a small sliver of icing. In any case, his mother, Judy, was on hand to remind her soon of the need to observe a strict diet, posting a lighthearted message on Twitter which asked: “Cake is for sharing, right?”
Murray’s peers in the game also sent messages of congratulations. Rafa Nadal, who hit 30 last June, warned Murray he was “getting old,” but reassured him. “It’s the beginning that is tough, then you’re going to keep enjoying [it],” he added.
Novak Djokovic, who will turn 30 next week, told Murray: “Happy birthday. I know we are only seven days apart but May is the best month of the year to have a birthday.
The Bulgarian player, Grigor Dimitrov, a comparatively youthful 25, joked Murray was now an “old fart,” but said: “What can I say? Thirty I guess is the new twenty.”
Murray can also take heart from the fact that turning 30 is no longer a barrier to success in tennis. There were no fewer than 39 thirtysomethings in the top 100 rankings; back in 2005, the year he turned the professional, the number stood at just 16.
Given that his great rival, Roger Federer, is continuing to win top titles at 35, Murray can look forward to continued glory, provided he can shake off the poor form that his plagued him over recent months.
Speaking yesterday, Murray expressed hope that he has several years left at the summit of his sport.
“When I was starting out on the tour, 30 is around the time when a lot of them would have stopped playing or started to struggle,” he said.
“Maybe at 31, 32, as when a lot of the players were stopping, and even just before I came on the tour, players were stopping in their late twenties.
“You never know how your body’s going to be and your health. If that’s fine, there is no reason why you can’t compete at the top of your game into your early to mid-thirties.”
According to the tennis fitness coach, Jez Green, who was part of Murray’s team until 2014, the way the game has evolved in recent years, particularly with major advances in sports science and conditioning, allows players of Murray’s vintage to thrive like never before.
“When you look at the previous generation, Andre Agassi basically never had a massage, and he didn’t stretch,” he said yesterday. “The same for Becker. Pete Sampras did a bit of stuff but it was limited. A lot of guys were having a couple of beers of an evening, going out late.”
Murray plays his round of 32 tie today against Italy’s Fabio Fognini, ranked number 29 in the world.