Over in Barcelona, Emilio Sanchez, brother of Arantxa, and the co-founder of the academy where the Scot spent three of his formative years, felt a warm glow inside as he watched his former pupil fulfil one of his lifetime goals.
Moreover, his joy related to multiple members of Team Murray. One of the men who had helped the Scot succeed, his pal, hitting partner and loosely termed coach, Dani Vallverdu, is also a member of the academy's alumni, the pair of teenagers forging their frienship on the playing fields of Barcelona. The Scot, and to some extent his Venezuelan friend, join a short but growing list of Sanchez-Casal grand slam winners which includes Arantxa, 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Ana Ivanovic, who spent eight weeks there prior to her 2008 French Open victory but has never looked remotely like doing anything since. With Sanchez currently launching the second phase of the project in Naples, Florida, there was no better time for Sanchez's poster boy to burnish his celebrity credentials.
"I was in Spain when I watched the match," Sanchez told Herald Sport. "I watched the semi-final as well and was very glad for him. It is not us that wins, it is him – we have nothing to do with it. But when you make a life like this and one of your students does so well it makes us all very proud. He left here a long time ago but he was always very kind to the academy and all the students that were with him. When a student like that fulfils his dream for us, it is a huge joy.
"Dani made the transition and has been growing as a coach and a manager together with Andy," added the 47-year-old, three times a grand slam doubles winner. "For them to be making such a good a team is a very nice thing for us. Our mission statement is to give opportunities in life, tennis and education and they are two great examples – one who has become very good in playing and another who is doing well in coaching so we are very happy. They were from the same year, and had another player with them as well, Juan Monaco, who was also playing at the academy. They all became big Barca fans so it must have been a dream for Andy at the US Open when Pep Guardiola came to watch him."
The last time I interviewed Sanchez it was in Spring 2010, in the midst of the Scot's post- Australian Open final slump. His star pupil had won just nine of his previous 20 matches, and there were fears as to whether he would ever be on the winner's rostrum at a major tournament. Wisely, Sanchez's confidence in the player never wavered. But only if his former pupil still was prepared to dig deep to make it happen. Ivan Lendl was recruited at the turn of the year and the rest, as they say, is history. The Spaniard's words have a prophetic quality now. "This is something that happens to all the great players, their graph never grows steadily, it is like the stock market," Sanchez said. "It is only at the end, when you look over the longer term, that you can see it has been a steady line upwards."
Returning to the topic now, the Spaniard sees incremental improvements in all facets of the Scot's game, particularly in his aggressiveness on court and his mental toughness. "In some ways he has always improved," Sanchez said. "He lost four straight finals, but he had the bad luck of playing at the same time as [Roger] Federer, [Rafa] Nadal and then last year with [Novak] Djokovic. The time he is in really is very challenging, so to win a slam really is outstanding in this era. To beat these guys you have to improve a bit of everything. Before, on the key points of these matches, some of these things like emotions and the mental side in some way betrayed him. This time he was much more consistent in those key factors. It allowed him to play much better in the important points and made the matches come to his side."
For the record, Sanchez sees no reason to believe that Murray will rest on his laurels after just one major title. The 13-year-old who beat him 6-3, 6-1 in a trial match, impressing him sufficiently to win a place in the academy, always spoke of becoming the world No.1 tennis player and, assuming his thirst for glory remains undimmed, Sanchez thinks the next 12 months is a reasonable timescale for that to occur. Then, of course, there is his awesome destiny as a man finally capable of ending the 76-year drought for a home winner of Wimbledon.
"He has an opportunity in front of him, it is just about whether he wants to make the same effort he was doing before," Sanchez said. "He cannot relax at all, he will have to keep going, and I am sure if he stays around the same guys they will try to get the best from him. Rafa is injured but he will come back, no-one knows whether Federer will have any more good shots at titles or not, because he has done so much already. This is a very demanding job so no-one knows what will happen, but things look very good for him. To arrive at No.1 he will have to win at least two of the big ones, but by London next year I don't see why not. When he was very young and came to the academy he always talked about being No.1 and now he is getting to close to the target. He was born to do it."
Contextual targeting label: