There is evidence, however, that the world No.4 remains the ringmaster. The hullaballoo around Murray at SW19 increases year on year but his ability to deal with it has been particularly marked this summer.
This is a different Murray. The result, of course, could be the same in a major. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still in the Wimbledon’s men’s singles and the Scot is no nearer to winning his first grand slam title. But the most obvious change in Murray is his growing maturity. At 24, he has relaxed with the press, has become accustomed to meeting royalty and US Open winners -- of tennis and golf -- and has learned to surrender to the sheer madness of being the Brit at Wimbers.
The bow to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Monday garnered the headlines and his post-match quips about his unkempt appearance attracted laughter. The most significant development is what took place in two hours of action against Richard Gasquet of France. The 25-year-old Frenchman was touted as a clear and present danger to Murray’s hopes.
Instead, the Scot slowly but surely squeezed the life out of his opponent. Against Ivan Ljubicic, Murray showed he reacted well to adversity. The way he performed against Gasquet, in contrast, was an example of Murray leading confidently from the front.
It was also an indication of how strong the top four players are in relation to the pack. This strength will be tested today when the Big Four attempt to move en masse into their second consecutive grand semi-finals.
Murray is aware of his status, though he is acutely conscious, too, that he has still to win a major. “I’ve been there for a good three, four years now. I’ve been up there with them and won against them quite a lot of times,” he said of his top-four status. “I’d like to get the chance to win against them in one of these competitions. That would definitely help me, but I think I’m up there with them.”
Murray, of course, means beating one of the top three in a major final. He has defeated Nadal en route to two grand slam finals.
The winning of a major is the sole aim of Murray’s professional life. McIlroy, the Northern Irish golfer who strolled away with the US Open, visited Wimbledon yesterday and remarked on the “relaxation” visible in the Scot while extending good wishes on the tennis player’s attempt to win a major.
Murray does not lack for goodwill or for talent. He has searched, though, for that extra momentum to push him over the line.
With experienced coaches Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld in his corner, Murray has ironically taken on more personal responsibility.
“I sat down before the clay court stretch and said ‘what things are we going to work on, what are the goals here?’. I sat down and said the No.1 goal is to win tennis matches, I don’t care how I play, if it is rubbish I am going to fight to the death, I am not going to try to play perfect tennis, but you start winning matches, you gain confidence and you get better.”
He added of the change in his attitude: “It is just something I wanted to do -- become a bit more independent, and a bit more responsible for the way I was acting on court and thinking on court.”
After being interviewed by McEnroe yesterday and chatting with McIlroy, Murray was then addressed on the matter of his pal, David Haye, who fights Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight championship on Saturday.
“‘Good luck’ isn’t something you send a boxer. They don’t believe in luck,” said Murray, who said he will contact Haye before the fight.
“Good luck is just something people say to be polite. To me, the people that are the best prepared and put the work in deserve to be there, deserve to win. There is that saying: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’. And I think that’s how it works. If you put everything in on the practice court and when you’re training, then you get a little bit of luck along the way.”
Murray was also asked if other players treat him differently because he is part of the game’s elite four.
“Obviously I wouldn’t expect people to treat me the same as they treat Roger or Rafa, but when I’m playing at Wimbledon I think for me it’s definitely an advantage having a home court and having the support with you. I’ve had good results here the last few years, so I’d hope the players are a little bit nervous when I play against them,” he said.
The unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez faces that challenge today. He is tall, strong and powerful. But Murray has grown, too. He stretches now to grasp another opportunity to win a major.