A few minutes after it was over, he walked slowly across the court, sneakers off, in his socks. Shoulders saggy, blank-eyed, he looked like a sleep-deprived kid trudging his way to the bathroom for a midnight glass of water. He was searching for a way to climb into his box at Arthur Ashe Stadium, to reunite with his mother, Judy, his girlfriend, Kim Sears, and his inscrutable coach, Ivan Lendl.
But Andy Murray couldn't get up there. They needed him back on the court. For, you know, the trophy and the applause and stuff.
Forgive him the confusion. This side of the ceremony was still new for Murray. There'd been many rough days and small consolation plates before this. Perhaps unfairly, the other side of the ceremony had become part of Murray's identity, as recognizable as his pale legs and ankle braces and exasperated outbursts. Andy the Irritated Outsider. The plus-one to Roger, Rafa and Novak. Runner-up for life.