Distracted Murray comes up short again in Melbourne
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray had one thing on his mind as he walked off the court with the Australian Open runner-up trophy, yet again: Would he make his early-morning flight back to Britain to be with his wife Kim, who is about to give birth to their first child?
Murray rushed into his post-match news conference, answered eight questions - very succinctly, for him - and was out the door and on his way to the airport, with a little over 1 1/2 hours to catch his flight.
''Regardless of today's result, it's been hard,'' he said about the two-week tournament. ''I just want to get home.''
Murray has had tough campaigns at Grand Slams in the past, including here at the Australian Open, where he's now lost five times in the finals following his 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) defeat to Novak Djokovic on Sunday. But he's perhaps never had a major tournament quite like this, filled with so many uncertainties and distractions.
Murray's wife, Kim Sears, is due to give birth in early February, and he said before the tournament even began that he'd be willing to jump on a plane back to Britain if she went into labor while he was in Australia - even if it meant missing the final.
Murray made it to the championship match, but admitted it's been difficult to put Sears' pregnancy out of his mind completely when he's been on the court. He said he's had a seat reserved on nearly every flight out of Melbourne for the past few days, just in case.
Against Djokovic, he seemed out of sorts in the first set, which he lost in 30 minutes to fall into an immediate hole, and was visibly irritated throughout the match by line calls, camera flashes in the crowd and his own inconsistent play.
''You know, I started the last couple of matches quite slowly, I think, understandable in some respects,'' he said. ''Obviously, it's not good to begin matches like that against someone like Novak.''
To add to his anxieties in Melbourne, Murray also had a scare after his third-round victory over Joao Sousa when he was told that his wife's father, Nigel Sears, had become ill while watching a match in Rod Laver Arena and had to be carried out on a stretcher.
Nigel Sears, who had been in Melbourne to coach Ana Ivanovic, recovered and returned home to his family in Britain, but the incident still shook Murray. He said if Sears' health had been in serious danger, he would have immediately pulled out of the tournament.
''It was a difficult one,'' he said Sunday. ''It was close. I've never been in that position before, so it's as close as I've sort of been to leaving a Grand Slam.''
Through it all, Murray kept winning at Melbourne Park - that is, until he ran into his nemesis at this tournament, Djokovic. The top-ranked Djokovic has now beaten Murray in four of the five finals he's lost at the Australian Open.
Murray leaves Melbourne without the trophy again, but he's going back home to a much bigger prize this time.
''You've been a legend the last two weeks,'' a teary-eyed Murray told his wife in his on-court speech after the match. ''Thank you for your support and I'll be on the next flight home.''