Scotland waits to acclaim a glorious new chapter of the Andy Murray story. It fears another episode of the same old story.
The 25-year-old from Dunblane is into his fifth major final, but to date his exposure to such matches has only been bruising, the Scot reduced to tears and some serious soul searching in the aftermath of his three major final defeats by Roger Federer and one by Novak Djokovic. But hope burns more brightly than ever. Not only does the Scot have the advantage of a day's rest on the Serb, his shoulders have been unburdened by his Olympic victory and his mentality is transformed from the raw 21-year-old who first rocked up on finals day at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2008. Murray is unafraid to articulate his ambitions.
"It is the last thing I really want to achieve in my career, so that's why it's obviously very important for me," he said. "Winning the Olympics did, for me, take a bit of the pressure off. I did feel a lot better after that. I maybe had fewer doubts about myself and my place in the game just now. It means a lot to me. You obviously saw at Wimbledon how much that meant to me. It's not easy to lose another slam final, so I hope this one is a different story."
All that stands between him and glory is Djokovic, a man who is as dominant on a hard court in the slams as Rafael Nadal is on clay. The Serb has gone 27 matches without defeat on this surface in the majors, not least of which was a dramatic, five-hour semi-final against Murray at Melbourne this year, in which Djokovic prevailed 7-5 in the fifth set. Like it or not, he deserves to be a slight favourite for this match, but one weapon the Scot can use against him is the fact that in their last meeting, the Olympic semi-final, Murray won 7-5, 7-5.
The patriotic Serb carried the flag for his nation, so try telling him that the Olympics was somehow less meaningful than a major. "I know how much the Olympics meant to all of the players, and winning against him in the Olympic semi-final was a big win for me," the Scot said. "I know how tough it is to beat the top, top players in big matches.
"I handled a big match against him well in Australia this year. It was a great match. I think both of us played very well. It came down to a couple of points. I have had some tough losses against him, but also had some big highs against him. Obviously it will be an unbelievably tough match. He moves very well on the hard courts and he's a top, top player, one of the best players that's played. The year he had last year was incredible."
Murray's first final seems like a lifetime ago. Even to the Scot himself. "I remember very little about the 2008 final," he said. "It just felt like it came around so quickly. It was the first time I had been in the semis and final, and it just seemed to go in the blink of an eye. I know how I will deal with it now, I'm going to have a day to practise and rest and think about it. I am sure I am going to deal with it all better this time, I've got four more years of experience and quite a lot of that experience has come this year, so that helps."
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Murray has been his ability to maintain an even spirit level amid even the most stressful of situations – say, the baking heat against Alex Bogomolov Jr and Feliciano Lopez, or an encroaching tornado against Tomas Berdych. The 25-year-old has thrown off his adolescence and now, remarkably, even major finals have a routine quality to them. This is, after all, his second in the calendar year.
"You know, my results in the slams over the last couple of years have been very good," said the Scot. "This year in the major tournaments, along with the Olympics, has been my best year. I have never made two grand slam finals in a year, so that's obviously a good sign that I'm playing better and still learning. Whatever happens in the final, it's been a great year. All I want to make sure I do in the final is that I give 100%. I will give it everything, leave it all out there."
Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Sean Connery both gatecrashed the press conference after Murray's wind-assisted semi-final defeat of Tomas Berdych. Victory today over Djokovic and the Scot can perhaps brace himself for even more well-known interlopers.
"I've never really mixed, I would say, with celebrities," he said. "But I enjoy meeting athletes because I have a lot to talk to them about. Over the last few years, tennis has become attractive to celebrities. It gets a lot of attention now, so that obviously brings various famous people."
Murray's first grand slam victory would be a famous win, right up there with any Scottish sporting achievement you could care to name. No man has ever won Olympic gold and the US Open in the same year. Not yet anyway.