While the rest of the world – including World No.1 Novak Djokovic – slept on Saturday night, Andy Murray had snuck out of his hotel room to watch brother Jamie win the men’s doubles title at the Rod Laver Arena.
Ordinarily, you would expect, it would not have been an issue but for the fact that just hours later, Murray, the junior, was due on court for his fifth shot at Australian Open glory, reports Xinhua.
Despite the Scot’s peculiar choice of Saturday night activity, it wasn’t the only distraction in two weeks of drama that hounded the Scot from every possible angle. It was a fortnight which, unfortunately for him, resulted in yet another heartbreaking loss in the final against nemesis Djokovic.
Add to his late evening the fact that he had on Friday night played out a gruelling, five-set semi-final against Milos Raonic. Add to that the fact the Djokovic’s semi-final win came on Thursday.
Further compounding Murray’s distractions off the court, his wife, Kim is due to give birth any day. Also, his father-in-law Nigel Sears was last Saturday taken to hospital after “collapsing in a pool of blood” during a match in which he was coaching.
So when Murray heaped, even more, distraction on himself the night before a Grand Slam final, the tennis world and even his brother Jamie expressed disbelief that his Andy was jeopardising a shot at his long-awaited maiden Australian Open title.
Instead of revelling in the elation of taking out his first Grand Slam doubles title, Jamie turned the attention over to Andy, telling him: “You should be in bed, don’t know why you’re here taking photos”. The clock had well and truly ticked past 1 o’clock in the morning.
And on Sunday, his disjointed night – and a likely fortnight – of sleep was plainly evident for the 14,800 who had come to see the Scot attempt a boil over.
In the first set, his lethargic passing was nothing like what he had been producing two nights earlier in his semi-final while his on-court movement and decision making was – put frankly – poor. Murray was finally feeling the brutal weight of the past fortnight.
At the best of times, it is not advisable to drop your game against the world’s best player and Murray quickly found himself facing the prospect of a 6-0 opening set and falling behind in momentum.
He managed to win a game in the first, but Murray was irritable on the court; the number of unforced errors he seemed to be producing was hardly indicative of being a World No.2.
Ironically, as the night drew on, Murray got better. Perhaps well-adjusted to late nights, the Scot almost threatened to take the third, forcing a tie-break before, predictably, Djokovic took his game to another level, closing the match in straight sets.
After the match, Murray was quickly rushed into his press conference where he stayed for barely 90 seconds – he was booked on the next flight out of Melbourne to head home to his wife and family.
“A lot has been going on. I started the last couple of matches slowly which is understandable,” Murray said, admitting his poor form had been brought on by a tumultuous fortnight off the field.
Murray said, under the circumstances, his fifth Australian Open final berth was a miracle in itself, and admitted he was “close” to flying home to be with Kim and her father Nigel after he fell and was hospitalised last week.
“I’m proud I got into the position. It’s been hard (without Kim), but she’s been amazing and handled everything unbelievably well. (The Nigel decision) was a difficult one, I was close (to packing up). I had never been this close to leaving a Grand Slam, but it was a tough couple of days,” Murray said.
“Thankfully he is fine now. I just want to get home.”
Following his conference, the World No.2 collected his things and headed for Melbourne Airport.
Perhaps all it will take to break his Melbourne Park hoodoo is a clearer mind, for a distraction-free Murray could take the next, gigantic step in taking out his first Australian Open crown