Andy Murray believes his historic second Olympic gold medal will provide the perfect platform for a fresh assault on the US Open in two weeks’ time.
The world number two became the first player to win two tennis singles gold medals when he defeated Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a final which lasted over four hours and suffered numerous, dramatic shifts in momentum.
Murray has already added a second Wimbledon title to his collection in 2016 and was runner-up to world number one Novak Djokovic at the Australian and French Opens.
He admits that his Serb rival, who has 12 majors to his three and completed a career Grand Slam with his win in Paris in June, remains the benchmark challenge in the sport.
“Novak has played amazing tennis in the last two years and has been consistent. What I have been doing in four months he has been doing all year. I need to keep going,” said Murray.
“The US Open is the next goal. I have played in the finals of all the Slams this year and I want to have a good one this year in New York.”
Sunday’s final was played out against a background of deafening noise generated by a legion of passionate, screaming Argentine fans.
Murray admitted the final had pushed him to the limit.
“It was probably one of the hardest matches I have had to play to win a big final,” said the British star.
“This was tough emotionally and physically, there were lots of ups and downs.
“This was much harder to win than London four years ago. The final then was more straightforward. Tonight anything could have happened,” he said.
“I am very tired. We played four hours on a slow court which meant a lot of running. It was very humid and I served badly. All of that made the match tougher than it was already.”
Murray said he was proud of his achievement especially as it was sealed in a final which featured 15 breaks of serve and ended with both men exhausted and exchanging a lengthy embrace at the net.
“It’s very hard to win two golds, I am proud to be the first but it hasn’t been easy. Lots can happen in four years. I have had back surgery since I won in London, I had tough times on court.”
With two golds in the bag, Murray refused to entertain thoughts of a third gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I will be 33 in four years time, I don’t know if I will still be playing at the same level then.”
Del Potro, a bronze medallist in London four years ago, was inconsolable, weeping as he sat courtside after the final.
He had defeated world number one Djokovic in the first round and third seed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
All of that from a player who came into Rio with a world ranking of 141.
“When I saw the draw and I was playing Novak, I thought that this will be a very short tournament,” said the 27-year-old.
Del Potro praised the Argentine fans, dressed in the sky blue of their national football team, as well as Brazilian spectators who are never traditionally that warm to their bitter neighbours.
“They cheered me and with great respect. The fans kept me going and made me cry.”
Del Potro spent seven hours on court on Saturday and Sunday at the end of a week which started with him getting stuck in an elevator at the Athletes Village for 40 minutes on the morning of his match against Djokovic.
“Silver is like a gold for me — I will remember this for the rest of my life.”
It was a memorable match for even the spectators who were watching it.
File picture of gold medallist Andy Murray (GBR) of Britain reacts after receiving his medal.