If anyone has been hankering after warmer weather, it's Andy Murray. The Wimbledon champion is at his habitual off-season training spot, the University of Miami, where he will continue his mission to be match-fit for the Australian Open and the 2014 season. But before he went across the Atlantic, Murray took the time to visit the All England Club, and sat down with Wimbledon.com for a brief chat...
Tennis players tend to be secretive sorts. And you can understand why. You don't want your opponents and rivals to know everything that is going on with you for fear that they will exploit it and use it against you. As a result, it should not have been a surprise to hear that the back injury that forced Andy Murray into surgery was something he has been managing for an 18-month period.
"It's 18-19 months I've been dealing with the back issue," Murray explained. "Obviously having the surgery was a difficult decision, but I'm hoping that getting back on the court and not having to deal with that, I'll be able to play golf, and football and gokarting and stuff that I haven't been able to do for a long time.
"So being able to get back on the court pain free and do some of my hobbies that I haven't been allowed to do for the last 18 months will be nice."
It may seem like a simple thing, being able to run around and muck about with your friends in a field with a football. Which is why when Murray was finally allowed to run around again, albeit underwater, it was a bit of a revelation.
"The most fun thing I've done in the training was it's basically an underwater treadmill," Murray explained. "When you've been literally lying down for two, three weeks when you're used to being very active and you're not allowed to do anything, then when you can actually start running again and moving around properly, you appreciate that quite a lot. So I'd say that's probably been the best bit. It was something I've never done before ever, in all the training I've done over the years, so it was cool."
Murray being the sort of character he is, prone to analysing the most minute of details, from the way the ball bounces off the chalk lines at Wimbledon, to appreciating the way Agnieszka Radwanska plays tennis, has naturally learned a bit about his body during this rehab process.
"If you are being asked to use a specific muscle without contracting any of the other muscles around it, it's very difficult, so you start to I guess feel and understand your body a little bit better," he said. " It was interesting at the beginning, but after a week, 10 days of that, you want to feel like you can do stuff, even though you're not meant to."
Which brings us back to the fascination with running on underwater treadmills.
Thankfully, with Murray back on the court in Miami, that frustration will have abated. But he admits that managing his injury has taught him some things along the way too.
"I'd never spent any time in the hospital before, ever, never had to since I was a kid. So it's pretty amazing now the things that they can do," Murray said about his two days in hospital following his back surgery. "A couple of my friends are physios for the NHS, and when you are actually in there and you're the one that can barely walk, can't go to the toilet, stuff like that, can't get out of bed, and having people to help you, I appreciated that a lot, because obviously you don't see that. But then spending two days in there, you see what a good job they all do."
The second lesson was that tough decisions, in the long term, can turn out for the best.
"I think, missing the French Open probably, because at the time I was doubting the decision quite a lot," Murray said, pausing to think what he has learned most from 2013. "Because I could have still played, but it might have set me back a little bit further, made my back a little bit worse. So that I think that process of making the decision and sticking with it, and obviously at the end it turned out and worked out very well with Queen's and Wimbledon. I probably learnt quite a lot from that, making a decision which at the time it's a negative one, you're having to missing a Grand Slam, but rather than just looking short term you're looking a little bit further ahead and thankfully it worked out well."
One of the other ways he has been occupying himself, when not rehabbing all-day every-day, has been promoting Seventy-Seven, Murray's rememberances from first Grand Slam final to the most recent. It begins with his description, point by point, of the last game of the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic, a game that lasted almost 13 minutes, involved four Championship points, three break points, and ended Britain's 77-year-wait for a male Wimbledon champion.
"I had never planned what I would do when I won Wimbledon, and my reaction would suggest that I didn't have a clue what I was doing," he writes.
You can watch that last game and Murray's subsequent dazed celebration above.
"When I came in here afterwards I literally didn't remember anything," Murray said, gesturing to the press room. "But I'd watched the end of the match a few times before I spoke about it so I could remember a little bit more. You can think about the end of the match and what it was like winning Wimbledon, but it was more everything that goes into the day, things that happen before and afterwards that you've forgotten or never picked up on, so in some ways it was nice."
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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