Andy Murray is no stranger to testing road trips but he has needed to call on all of his famed resilience to handle a couple of vastly different travel experiences over the past week.
The dual-Wimbledon champion described his role playing chauffeur to Jack Draper following Great Britain’s Davis Cup heroics in Manchester last Sunday as especially challenging.
Midway through the deciding doubles rubber against France, Draper asked the elder statesman of the Great British team if he could grab a lift back to London after the tie.
Murray, who will play his opening match in the Zhuhai Championships on Thursday against Chinese wildcard Ye Cong, readily agreed given the rising star lives close to his home.
But after the adrenaline-pumping victory of Dan Evans and Neil Skupski over Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Murray’s teammates celebrated the triumph with glee.
A social media post from Draper enjoying his ride home from the sober Murray has since gone viral.
“He asked if I wanted some company for the ride home during the last match and I said, ‘Yeah.
“Sure.” Murray said.
“Obviously with the way that the match finished … we were celebrating and they had some champagne and a few beers before they left. And Jack had a few before we left and took more in the car with him.
“So I obviously had to drive whilst listening to this very loud music, and it was like one o'clock or two o’clock in the morning as well, so it wasn't an easy ride.”
As delighted as Murray is to have helped Great Britain qualify for the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga in late November, he believes changes need to be made to the current format.
The 36-year-old has joined fellow three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in saying the round robin format only works for the host nations and has robbed other ties of atmosphere.
“Davis Cup for me, I love the home and away matches. I don’t like the round robin, the group format, because you have matches that sometimes don’t mean anything,” Murray said.
“It feels like when you're playing for your country, that certainly shouldn't be the case. There were some matches where nobody was watching. And for me, the most important thing about playing Davis Cup is about playing in special atmospheres, whether it is home or away.
“I'd like that to come back for all of the players and all the teams. I think it needs to change and I hope it does in the next few years.”
Great Britain has drawn the Novak Djokovic-led Serbia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Malaga, which is a challenging task.
Quizzed about Djokovic’s recent success in the US Open, Murray said his boyhood friend had enjoyed an extraordinary season in winning three of the four majors.
“I think what he achieved at the US Open, and also for the whole of this year, is incredible,”
“To still be doing what he is physically at 36 is very impressive. The motivation and the drive to keep winning and keep performing at that level, it's brilliant.
“I think of all of those guys, Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal), they have all had long careers, but certainly none of them, I don't think, have played at the level that Novak is just now at this stage of their careers so consistently.”
Having survived his road trip with Draper, the former world No.1 enjoyed a brief time with his family in London before flying to China for what he considers an important finish to the year.
The initial challenge is to adapt to the hot and humid conditions in Zhuhai, which are in stark contrast to the conditions Murray experienced in Manchester last week.
The world No.41 has fond memories of playing in the inaugural Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships in 2019, stating it was the tournament which confirmed his belief he could return to the top again after major hip surgery.
Having fully recovered from an abdominal injury that hindered his US Open preparation, Murray is looking forward to making further ranking inroads over the next two months.
“I got to my highest ranking a few weeks ago since I had the hip operation, so that was a positive and it shows that although the trajectory is not as fast as I would like, I'm still going in the right direction,” he said.
“I didn’t do so well at the end of last year, so I've got an opportunity through the last five (or) six tournaments … to have a strong finish, so that's what I'm hoping to do.