Andy Murray smiles coyly when he declares he would love to win all the remaining 2016 slams, defend his Olympic gold medal and, with his Great Britain team-mates, retain the Davis Cup they won on such on a wave of emotion in Ghent last year.
The odds on that are impossibly long, but the ambition fuels the hunger of someone who is playing now for his wife, Kim, and baby daughter, Sophia, as well as his country.
For all that the rest of the Great Britain squad have, over that period and most tellingly in the past year, hung in there to help the Scot as best they could, it is Murray who lifted them to glory in the final against Belgium and it is Murray who will sustain their run in 2016 as far as they can take it, beginning against Japan in Birmingham on Friday
In a dream scenario, the world No2 wants to play in all four matches it would take to keep the title that broke a drought of 79 years, although his schedule is even tougher than in 2015. “It’s 100% Olympics and I want to try to play Davis Cup too,” Murray told the Observer. “But it depends on what happens this week, because that could change things a lot. If we don’t win, I could take five or six days off after Wimbledon [when the quarter-finals are scheduled] and get myself ready for the hardcourt swing [before the Olympics in August, followed by the US Open].
“I’d love to win the Olympics again, but I’d also love to win Wimbledon again – in fact, all of the slams and the Davis Cup. But it would be difficult to pick one event over another. I’d like to do well in all of them. I think it’s possible, but you need to be pretty smart with your scheduling.
“I could potentially play Wimbledon on the grass and the next week could be on a clay court [either away against Kazakhstan or at home to Serbia, most probably], and then a couple of weeks later the Olympics on a hard court. I’m preparing for it to be tough; that’s why, in the early part of the year, it’s important to get time off just now. After Monte Carlo [from 10 April] I’m going to take a week to 10 days’ rest as well.”
The Great Britain captain, Leon Smith, meanwhile, could not be happier or more confident en route to Birmingham with Murray, his brother, Jamie, the doubles specialist Dominic Inglot, the fast-improving Kyle Edmund and the local hero Dan Evans. “To start the campaign as defending champions, No1 on the ITF ranking, it’s an amazing achievement,” he said. “At the same time, it’s important that we reset for this match. We start again now. It’ll be great occasion in Birmingham, first time back at home since winning.”
James Ward, whose early season has been disrupted by injury, misses out, but Smith had no hesitation in calling on Evans, who has invariably risen to the challenge. Smith said: “The first two names on the team-sheet were Andy and Jamie, obviously – both No2 [the latter in doubles] in the world. Dom Inglot is a player you know can play doubles at such a high level and on an indoor court his serve is so good.
“Dan has had a really good progressive nine months, going from 700-odd to around 150. He qualified in Australia. On an indoor court, as we saw against Bernard Tomic [in the semi-final last year], he plays very well. And his game matches well with the opposition. He’s had a win against [Kei] Nishikori when he was No10 in the world. Kyle’s absolutely deserving of it, 80-odd in the world and a very dangerous player.”
As for concerns about Edmund fading in his two most recent five-setters after great starts, Smith said: “For two sets in the final against David Goffin, he played some of the highest level of tennis you could see, way above an opponent ranked 15 in the world. In Melbourne he lost another five-setter, cramping again.
“We see it with a lot of young players. We saw it with Andy in the early days. I’m not worried about it. It’s part of the learning process. It could be stress, nerves, physical. Another part of it is managing yourself, knowing how to pace yourself through five-set matches. You’ve got to take your time, manage your emotions, manage your time away from the points.”
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