Here he was, seated in Interview Room One, conducting the post-match conference after his at times fraught quarter-final victory over Marin Cilic, when the scoreline flashed up on the TV monitor high to his right.
Tomas Berdych had taken the opening set against Roger Federer and was now a break to the good in the second. The Czech would go on to win in four, recording a result which took the rest of the world by surprise, but there was hardly a flicker from the Scot. Quite frankly, as he digested the news, it was difficult to discern whether he regarded it as a blessing or a curse.
As the hours tick down to Saturday's US Open semi-final between the pair, that still seems a legitimate question to ponder. Federer might be a 17-times Grand Slam winner and arguably the finest player in the history of the sport – never mind the man who has crushed the Scot's hopes of major success in two of his four finals, at Flushing Meadows in 2008 and then at Wimbledon as recently as July. But the Swiss was at least a known quantity, a man against whom Murray has a winning record, having won nine and lost eight of their 17 previous meetings. The most recent of these, of course, was his crushing straight sets victory in the Olympic final.
Instead, as Donald Rumsfeld might say, Murray finds himself pitched into battle against an unknown known. He faces an attritional contest against the big-hitting Berdych, a man who has the capability to win any match against any player on the tour if he is on his game. For the record, this includes Murray. The Czech has had the upper hand on four of the six occasions they have met, including a straight sets victory at Roland Garros in 2010, and taking the scalp of the new-look Team Murray in Monte Carlo earlier this year.
The 26-year-old is swinging those mighty shoulders with freedom, having never even reached the quarter-finals here previously. Although he lost in the first round at Wimbledon and the Olympics to Ernests Gulbis and Steve Darcis respectively, he and his coach Tomas Krupa have done extra sprint coaching to work on the big man's movement and it appears to be paying dividends.
"I took a break after Wimbledon," Berdych said. "The first half of the season was quite hard and I felt quite tired so I made the decision. When you're not playing extremely well in the first tournament after that, then everybody says it was a mistake and why he did he do that, all these things like that. But I knew this was my decision, and it was for the good of my tennis."
Fortunately Murray not only has an excellent tennis IQ – it helped him get a torrid first set out of his system against Cilic, keeping his returns low and forcing the taller man to pick up shots from his feet – but he has a Czech mate to call on. The Olympic champion credits the influence of coach Ivan Lendl for keeping him calm in pressure situations and between them the two men have the knowhow to come up with a winning formula against the giant Berdych.
"He [Lendl] has made a big difference," Murray said. "I have improved since I started working with him. I have started to understand certain things better and how to go about my business not just on the court but off it. How to conserve energy and go into the matches with the right mindset and attitude even though, against Cilic, I probably didn't do a great job of that."
Lendl stays in Westchester, while Murray is based in a hotel near Central Park, so contact at times can be minimal. "Our chats are fairly brief," said the Scot, who practised at lunchtime here yesterday with Lendl and Dani Valverdu. "After the matches we'll speak for about five minutes or so. We'll speak on tomorrow about the match on Saturday, and then we will speak again about it before the match on the Saturday morning.
"Normally we'd have longer chats after the tournament is done. It's not worth having long conversations that can be tiring and can get overcomplicated during the event. You just need to talk about the things that didn't go so well, why I started like I did against Cilic, then what worked well at the end and how I can build on that going into the next round."
His form may have been up and down but there has been a businesslike air about Murray at this tournament which has been utterly constant. Whatever happens on Arthur Ashe on Super Saturday, the Scot is going to leave everything out there. "You never know exactly what's going to happen in the next couple of days," he said. "But I would hope that going into the thing match on Saturday, win or lose, I'll be in a good place mentally. I'll fight from the first point to the last. If I do that, I'll give myself a shot."
As he looked at that monitor, you could just about make out the Olympic champion's formidable tennis brain whirring into gear.
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