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Murray's BBC decision proves he values grand slams over awards

Benjamin Franklin must be top-spinning in his grave.

Murray has chosen not to break from his gruelling training regime to attend Sports Personality of the Year show. Picture: Getty Images
Murray has chosen not to break from his gruelling training regime to attend Sports Personality of the Year show. Picture: Getty Images

His turmoil concerns the necessary updating of his most famous quotation. It should now read: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and Andy Murray winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award."

Committed observers of the Wimbledon champion would surely add that the Scot missing the BBC ceremony in Leeds was a long odds-on bet given his training schedule. It should be noted, however, that at odds as prohibitive as 1-60 on, a £100 punt on a Murray victory would yield just enough to buy a cup of coffee.

More importantly, the 26-year-old's decision to remain in Miami is good news for those who are keen to see the Dunblane player add to his grand slam victories at the All England Club and last year at the US Open. Murray, burnt by media early in his career, was last night anxious to explain his absence as a rational, sensible option rather than a snub to a national institution.

He has just returned from back surgery and his training block in Miami is a hardy annual. This is when he puts the foundations in place for the trials to come. Murray will train every day, including Christmas Day, before heading to his first tournament in Abu Dhabi, his training block and subsequent tournaments.

"These are the sacrifices I need to make in order to give myself the best chance at the Australian Open in January," he said last night of missing the BBC ceremony. "I have a great relationship with the BBC, from the recent documentary to my regular columns throughout the year and I don't want this to be seen as a snub. I'm looking forward to linking up with the show live on the night and being part of it all."

Perhaps curiously, the decision is a comfort to those of us who believe Murray can win further grand slams. There was the possibility - however remote given his character - that the Scot could have settled for the substantial achievements at the London Olympics, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows. He has made changes to his management structure with seriously lucrative deals completed and in advanced negotiation. He has won $30m in prize money and lifted 28 titles.

It may have been understandable if the will had weakened just a little, if the goals had been reset to become less demanding. The commitment to the Miami training block, though, is the most blunt riposte to anyone fearing a slackening in the Scot's work ethic or a diminution in his desire. Murray is prepared to suffer again to make the most of his talent.

His choice of the term "sacrifice" is most unMurray. He never plays down the physical demands made upon him or the psychological pressures that he faces, particularly at Wimbledon. He is a champion who can admit to trembling hands when serving for a title but Murray normally eschews any talk of "sacrifice" as he believes that the rewards outweigh the pain of the practice court or the trials of grand slam tennis.

These gains cannot be weighed in monetary terms. Murray has more than enough to ensure a comfortable retirement with his Wimbledon champion status also ensuring a lucrative post-tennis life.

The rewards, instead, come from winning, most particularly at grand slam level. It is obvious Murray's focus is on Melbourne where he has reached the final of the Australian Open on three occasions.

This, patently, is a tournament he can win and he will be further encouraged by the realisation that Roger Federer is certainly not improving and Rafael Nadal has not been invincible in Melbourne, winning the tournament only once, back in 2009.

A member of Team Murray once informed me that if the Scot knew he could improve his performance by a minuscule amount by going to bed at 9pm then "he would be say 'night night' at 8.50pm every day".

This dedication has not been compromised by success. The first grand slam victory - at the US Open in 2012 - removed a monkey from the Scot's back. The Wimbledon success this year lifted a psychological storm that hovered around his head every summer.

But he wants more. Murray talked at Wimbledon this year of how a chat with Sir Alex Ferguson, the insatiable winner at Manchester United, had provided "gold dust". Much of the former football manager's advice centred on how to handle pressure when the big prizes were being decided. Murray listened intently and held his nerve, and crucially his serve, in the last game against Novak Djokovic on Centre Court in the summer.

However, the specialist subject for Ferguson is how to retain hunger after gorging on triumph. Ryan Giggs, for example, has more medals than a demented dictator.

This life lesson has also been picked up by Murray with Ferguson insisting his fellow Scot's victory at Wimbledon could be the beginning of a further journey not the final resting place of a career. The crucial factor in this continual progression is the undimmed willingness to adhere to the practices that brought success in the first place.

Murray, therefore, has chosen the sweat of Miami over the schmooze of Leeds. It demonstrates he wants to win the big prizes rather than just pick up awards.

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