Nice article in the Guardian UK on Andy Murray's charm offensive (as opposed to offensive charm).
From being pretty well known, Murray can probably now be classified as famous. 'Yes, this year, especially towards the end of the year, I've been recognised a lot more,' he says. 'But I don't really go out that much. I spend a lot of time walking the dog on the common. Pretty dull, actually.' He makes no attempt to hide his identity on these outings. 'I don't really wear hats. I just wear normal clothes and try to mix in. People do stop me for photos or an autograph, and everyone's been very supportive.'
There is a lot of fan mail now, too, he says. Mostly from girls? 'Careful,' Higgins interjects, which may account for what sounds suspiciously like a canny reply. 'I do get a lot from older people - 65 to 70,' he says, giving what is surely a fact too far. 'It's a mixture, but it's surprising that I get so many from grandparents being very supportive of everything I've done over the past few years.'
The unsupportive letters, which multiplied when he made an ill-judged joke about supporting 'anyone but England' during the 2006 World Cup, have largely dried up. 'It's started to get better the last year or so. Around the time, the reaction wasn't abusive - it wasn't swearing or whatever - it just wasn't particularly nice. People don't mention it to me so much, but my fitness trainer and others around me have a lot of friends who think that I don't like English people, which is obviously not true.' Exhibit one in this respect is his English girlfriend Kim Sears, although he stops short of mentioning her by name.
Criticism of his on-court behaviour is also on the wane. He explains the process by which he has curbed his anger, while still managing to become very visibly pumped-up: 'I always said that I wanted to get better at around this time in my career and that when I did work on it, it would definitely improve. The physical side of things is what has made such a huge difference. I find playing a tennis match much easier than I did before because the work off the court is much harder. The angry moments come out in the gym and on the running track now rather than when I'm playing. It's made a big difference, especially in the long matches in the grand slams.'
Good for Andy. I'm rooting for the kid in 2009.
More on Andy (seriously, there are like 5 articles a day on him in the British press):