A crying six-month-old baby can be the notorious bane of a working parent’s existence. But for Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, daughter Sophia proved to be the inspiration necessary to take him to the next level.
“I think (having a child) changed the motivation, not just for this tournament but throughout the whole year; just every day enjoying life a little bit more,” Murray told CNN on Monday. “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me, and my tennis has gotten better as a result of it.”
Moments after accepting his trophy and retreating to the clubhouse, the Scotsman was greeted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who had been in attendance at the royal box Sunday as Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title in a straight-sets victory over Canadian Milos Raonic.
“Congratulations, I don’t know how you manage it with no sleep,” said Prince William — himself a young parent of two. When Murray confessed that Sophia had slept soundly for three nights before the big match, the man who is second in line to the British throne called it “a good omen.”
Another good omen for Murray was finally facing a grand slam final opponent not named Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, a first in 11 appearances.
Murray’s experience of big-serving Raonic, appearing in his first final, proved vital during the big points, he confessed.
“I think pre-match I saw it as a better opportunity to win, so I felt a little bit more pressure,” the 29-year-old told CNN. “But then I think in the tight moments, the important moments yesterday, it helped being the more experienced one and knowing how to deal with those moments a little bit better than Milos in his first slam final.”
Although Murray could only once break the serve of Raonic — whose 147 mph delivery during the final was the second-fastest in Wimbledon history — he did not give up a single break himself. In fact, he only conceded two break points throughout the match — early in the third set — both of which Raonic failed to convert.
The tiebreaks were another matter altogether. Raonic had beaten Murray in a first-set tiebreak in June’s final at London Queen’s Club, but this time the 25-year-old looked entirely flustered, spraying one unforced error after another to go down 7-3 in the second set and 7-2 in the third.
“I know how it felt. It’s not easy and he maybe didn’t play so well in the tight moments, and that helped,” Murray sympathized.
Whatever emotions were kept in check during his 2 hours 48 minutes on court were let loose shortly afterward, when Murray appeared to bawl into his towel. It’s not the first time Murray has cried after victory (and, in fact, defeat).
Quest for No. 1
Having already won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, a Davis Cup and an Olympic gold, Murray is on pace to achieve something that has so far eluded him, a No. 1 ranking.
“The last couple of years it’s something that I’ve wanted to do. I’d love to get to No. 1 in the world, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do,” he said, lauding the steadiness of Djokovic, who suffered a surprise exit in Wimbledon’s third round.
Top-ranked Djokovic holds a big lead in points over No. 2 Murray, with each playing 18 tournaments over the past 12 months, while Federer is a similar distance back in third.
If successful, Murray would be the first British men’s world No. 1 in the open era.
“The amount of consistency he’s had has been phenomenal, so if I want to get there I’m going to have to keep up the form I’ve had in the last five tournaments,” Murray said of the Serbian’s position. “I need to do that for a whole season. I’m still trying my best to do that, and we’ll see what happens.”
Preserving his body is essential at this stage of his career, which is why Murray jumped in the ice bath — and posed shirtless with the famous trophy — not long after his Wimbledon win.
“I need to do that, my body hurts now,” he confessed. “I’m 29, that’s quite old for a tennis player.”
Murray is now expected to represent Great Britain at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio, where he will be aiming to defend his men’s singles title from London 2012.
Sharapova out of Olympics
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova’s appeal against her two-year doping ban has been delayed until September by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The delay means the 29-year-old Russian will not be able to participate at Rio 2016, having won a silver medal in London four years ago.
Both Sharapova and the CAS felt more time was necessary, according to a statement released by the appeal court on Monday.
“Due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts, the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal. A decision is expected to be issued by September 19, 2016,” CAS said.