At the age of 15, Andy Murray packed up from home in Dunblane and moved to Spain to pursue his tennis ambitions.
And so began the journey to three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals and the world No1 spot among other accolades.
It was there he stumbled across padel tennis, which he and friends made at the Sanchez-Casal Academy would play at the weekends.
Two decades on, he has just stepped off a padel court with brother Jamie at Westfield shopping centre in London. The younger of the Murray brothers makes the point while laughing, “I’m definitely better than Jamie and he’s played quite a lot more than me.”
It is as a mix of squash and tennis played out on a reduced-size court with glass walls around it which players can play off.
In Spain, there are a reported six million players. In Britain, it is a sport on the rise with new courts popping up in London and around the UK, and one Murray is investing into via Game4Padel.
“Tennis is a difficult sport to pick up,” he says. “Padel’s a little bit easier and it’s a good way for kids to start a racket sport. It’s slightly more forgiving.”
The 35-year-old is not about to switch sports in the twilight years of his career even despite cutting a gloomy figure as his season drew to a close at the Paris Masters last week.
One of the fittest players in his heyday, he was beset by cramping as he has been on numerous occasions this season, something he called “unacceptable” and leading him to question his own future.
A week on, he has no plans to walk away from tennis and yet remains disgruntled.
“I was pretty downbeat with the last few months,” he said. “The last seven or eight tournaments, I had issues with cramping and I’ve never had that consistently. So, I’m extremely disappointed.
“I can deal with losing a tennis match as it’s a difficult sport and you sometimes don’t perform as well as you’d like but there’s no excuse for being let down physically.
“My reflection on the last four or five months is that I’ve not been doing enough work to perform at the level I need to. I need to change that if I want to get back to the top of the game.”
Ever since hip surgery, the focus has been on whether the joint would hold. The hip has been the one positive in recent months in a solid run of tournaments from Wimbledon to the season’s end.
That, combined with ending the season in the world’s top 50, has given him the vigour to once again demolish himself in winter training as he used to.
“I’m positive about next season and the work I have to do,” he said. “I’ve already started some of that and I need to empty the tank in the next six to eight weeks in the gym and on the practice court.
“I was 130-140 in the world at the start of the season and I’m now inside the top 50. For most players, that’s a really positive year. For me, I don’t view it that way but I did make progress.
“There’s no guarantee I would have won those matches without the cramping but I feel there would have been potentially deeper runs.
“I played quite a lot of tournaments from Wimbledon through to the end of the season. From an endurance perspective, I didn’t cope that well but there’s not been the injuries and niggles, which hasn’t been the case the last few years.”
The other positive for the wider game in this country is that despite being the current world No46, he is now only the British No4 behind Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Jack Draper, the last of which he is genuinely excited about.
“Jack has got huge potential and only done six or seven months on tour,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to practise with him and spend time with him. The future’s really bright for him but also with Emma Raducanu. And there’s a couple of junior prospects on the women’s side that the coaches are pretty excited about.”
As for Murray, he argues the next eight weeks will define how excited he can get about his own 2023 season.