If he were not such a committed and down-to-earth sportsman, you could imagine that fame might have started to turn Andy Murray’s head by the time he set out on Monday night for a celebratory evening meal with his entourage at Nobu in London’s West End.
Having completed a large round of media interviews, the new Wimbledon champion had spent the afternoon taking tea in Downing Street with David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Earlier in the day the Prime Minister, when talking about Murray’s suitability for a knighthood, said: “I can’t think of anyone who deserves one more.”
Murray, nevertheless, has never shown any inclination to be distracted by fame or fortune. He is now planning a short holiday, after which he will be back on the court preparing for his next tournament, the Montreal Masters, which begins in four weeks’ time.
He will start his training for the north American hard-court season – and the defence of his US Open title – in his second home of Miami, where his coach, Ivan Lendl, can be relied on to ensure that his charge has not gone soft.
“I don’t know exactly how I am going to respond when I get back on the practice court, but the people around you can help a lot with that,” Murray said on Monday during a return visit to the scene of his triumph the previous day. The Scot looked in surprisingly good shape given that he had had just one hour’s sleep following a late night out at the Wimbledon Champions’ Dinner and an early morning start.
“I know in Ivan’s head that he is not content with how the last 18 months have gone. He will think I could have won the Australian Open this year and to get me ready for the US Open he will train me really hard over in Miami,” Murray said.
“I think that is huge having somebody like that in your corner. He was the ultimate competitor as a player and he loved winning. His consistency was amazing. He made eight consecutive US Open finals and there was no let-down for him. I hope having him in my corner will help out a lot.”
Murray added: “I hope I don’t lose hunger. I think I should be able to use this as motivation. I know what it’s like to lose in a Wimbledon final and I know what it is like winning one. It’s a lot better winning, so the hard work is worth it.
“I’ve just got to make sure I don’t get side-tracked by anything and that after the next few days – enjoying and celebrating — I’ll go away, rest up and get ready for the US Open. I’ve never had to defend a Grand Slam before. That will be a new experience for me and I’ll look forward to that.”
While Murray said that Lendl had made “a huge difference”, he also paid tribute to the rest of his entourage, who had “been fantastic over the years”.
Asked about the support of his girlfriend, Kim Sears, Murray said: “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. She knew what it was like to have that distant relationship. That’s obviously helped a lot. It’s been coming up to eight years, bar a few months in the middle, that we’ve been together. A long time.”
The Scot said he did not expect to be distracted from his tennis in the future. “I’m not addicted to going out or drinking or smoking,” he said. “I don’t do any of that sort of stuff. I enjoy being around my friends. I enjoy training. I enjoy being over in Miami.
“I don’t think I will get side-tracked, but you never know. You see it a lot in other sports because with fame there comes a lot of distractions, but 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. And people who are honest with you will tell you if you are acting out of line, or not working properly or you’re doing the wrong things. And I believe I have the right people to stop me doing anything like that, so I don’t see it happening.”
Murray said it had been difficult to escape from the pressures of the last fortnight. Although he expected that would ease in the future given that he had finally ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a Wimbledon male singles champion, he said his determination to win would be as strong as ever.
“I would hope it doesn’t change my expectations too much,” he said. “When I go to the US Open I will still want to win it.”
Among the many messages of congratulations that Murray received was one from Sir Alex Ferguson, who watched his fellow Scot win the US Open last summer and met him after watching one of his matches here last week. Having initially declined to reveal what they had talked about (other than to say the former Manchester United manager’s words were like “gold dust”), Murray revealed more details about their conversation.
“He said to me that one of the things he built his teams on was consistency and concentration,” Murray said. “If you can concentrate throughout an entire match you’ll gain that consistency. That was something I tried to do throughout the tournament. It is something I try to do, but it emphasises the point a bit more when someone like him says it to you.”