‘My daughter said ‘Dad, did you lose again?!”: Andy Murray reveals chat with his five-year-old after his brutal early departure from Wimbledon motivated him for another attempt at Olympic glory
You could feel the energy-guzzling effects of midsummer Tokyo in the short amount of time Andy Murray stopped by Thursday to discuss the tough Olympic tennis title defense he retained in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
There is a heat of 91F to contend with, as well as questions about his future that he did nothing about when he shared the workings of his mind after Denis Shapovalov’s defeat in Center Court 21 days ago. He had never seen such a defeat in 70 games at Wimbledon.
But an exchange he had with his five-year-old daughter Sophia, after returning home from that brutal night on Center Court, seems to have given him the strength to pick up his rackets and head back to the other side of the world.
Andy Murray faces an uphill task to clinch a remarkable third straight gold in the Olympics
“When I got home the day after my game, my daughter said to me, ‘Dad, you’re home because you lost another tennis match?’ Murray said. ‘I said, ‘Yes, I did. But what do you do if you lose at something?” And she said, “Are you trying and trying again?” I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I want to do”.’
Yet there is also something about Murray and the Olympics that has left the 34-year-old on the concrete surface of Ariake Park practice fields this week, while Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal stayed at home.
“The Olympics have given me some of the best memories of my career,” Murray said. “I think a Wimbledon title would be more important in tennis circles. But in that kind of broader sports context – people who may not be following tennis; don’t know anything about tennis – I think pretty much everyone understands and knows what a gold medal is.
And that the Olympics are the biggest sporting event for me. So winning medals at an Olympics is a huge achievement and something I am very proud of. They’re right there next to the Wimbledon titles.’
Murray retained Olympic gold in Rio five years ago – also in London in 2012
It is of course a different dynamic this time. Murray, unseeded, faces 20-year-old Canadian No. 9 seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, who arrives here on a climax after a strong grassfield season culminating in a first Grand Slam quarter-final at SW19. He also easily beat Murray at the US Open last year.
“It’s going to be difficult,” Murray thought. “But if you want to win medals you have to beat top players and because of my ranking and stuff I have to play against higher ranked players earlier in the tournament. So mentally I prepared myself for that.’
There will be easier ground if he can prevail – Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis or Germany’s Dominik Koepfer in the second round – although number 2 Daniil Medvedev may be lurking further afield.
Britain’s best hope of a medal may come in doubles, although Murray and Joe Salisbury also faced a tough draw against French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
Murray is desperate to silence his doubters after crashing into Wimbledon in the third round ronde
However, the terrain matters less now. While Murray carried the weight of the country’s expectations in London, where he beat Roger Federer to gold nine years ago, and Rio, where he was the country’s flag bearer, he can now relish the opportunity, however changed it may have been. in these times.
Check the Instagram feed of his brother and Olympic village roommate Jamie and you’ll see Andy is the old stage actor, looking for some final fireworks amid the embers of a glorious career.
“I know this could be my last (Olympic Games) for me,” he added. “So I want to go out and leave everything on the pitch, fight for every point.
“You can never guarantee how you will perform, but you do have control over your effort level, how well you prepare and all that. I will take care of all those things. And I hope the performances will follow.’