Andy Murray wants Christmas at home and World Tour semi-final present
• Scot must beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for semi-final chance
• World No3 planning holiday at home for first time in years
Andy Murray, still holding his aching body together with grit and plaster at the end of a momentous season, is about to have his first Christmas at home in a few years – although he would prefer his holiday did not start immediately after his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday night.
Defeat by the Frenchman in the third Group A match of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals would almost certainly put the Scot out of the weekend's semi-finals. Of the 10 possible scenarios in the group, four would see him survive, including one in which he loses to Tsonga in three sets, as long as Novak Djokovic takes three sets to account for Tomas Berdych earlier on.
Whatever the strength of their rivalry, he would prefer Djokovic to win, making it tougher for Berdych to go through, and his path easier; whether the world No 1 would be happy for his long-time friend to complicate his drive for the title by staying in the mix is another matter. The only case in which Djokovic goes home early is if he loses in two sets to Berdych and Murray beats Tsonga in two sets.
"I've won two matches here before and qualified," Murray said, "and I've won two matches and not qualified. The only way to guarantee is by winning three matches or by winning your first two matches in straight sets. It's not easy to win comfortably here because you're playing against the best players on a quick surface."
If Murray's newly barbered head hurts doing the maths, his back, knees and ankles at least do not appear to be giving him the grief they did when he all but collapsed in the early stages of the French Open. But he could do with a break.
"I haven't taken a holiday the last few years because I've gone straight from Miami [where he does his warm-winter training] to Australia [for the Open]. This year we will take a holiday, then I'll spend a few days at home over Christmas, for the first time in a few years."
He and the caravan of dream-chasers on the Tour spend precious little time in their expensive homes, especially those who invariably go deep in the draw. This year, it is different for Murray; he returns from his travels a grand slam champion and an Olympic gold medallist, and he has noticed a slight change in the public's reaction to him.
"A little bit," he says, "but nothing too drastic – I didn't really want that to be the case either. When we are playing tournaments – and I have been since I got back from Paris – we don't really go out and about, walk the streets, go to restaurants and see loads of people. We are at the tournaments, training, practising and doing our stuff. Maybe when I'm at my home I'll see more of a change."
It is two years since he had a proper extended break but he will not be turning to lard in the sunshine. "I'm happy to sit on the beach for a couple of days but, after that, I try to do [exercise] because, when you just lie around, your body stiffens up. When you do start practising, it takes time to get back into it. Your body hurts quite a lot when you take a week off doing absolutely nothing.
"I speak to Kim [Sears, his girlfriend] about where to go and we try to find the most convenient place for the time we've got – somewhere that's not a real hassle to get to. That, for me, is important because we do a lot of travelling. I don't really want to go somewhere where it's three or four flights away. Yes, we travel the world, but we don't see too many of the cities when we're there. Because the season's long, it is nice when we do get some time off to just be at home. I'm looking forward to it."http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/nov/08/andy-murray-world-tour-finals