Murray nears the summit
As Andy Murray walked back into the players' lounge, after winning his 13th career title here in Montreal on Sunday, a welcoming party of volunteers and tournament staff gave him a big cheer and a long ovation.
Tournament Director Eugene Lapierre handed over a flute of champagne which, while held for the purposes of photographs, was not consumed.
Murray couldn't stop smiling, chatting amiably to the good folk who run a fantastic tournament (this was my first visit to Montreal and I can think of few better), while in the background coach Miles Maclagan, one of the unsung heroes of this remarkable British sporting success story, sat on a sofa watching the golf.
Murray's victory was his fourth at Masters level (the tier just beneath the Grand Slams), which is two more than Henman and Rusedski put together, and the fifth of a fantastic 2009 season which still has three months to run.
On the American hard courts this was his fifth successive final (Cincinnati, US Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal) and the third time he had won. Nobody can match that record anywhere in the world and, unsurprisingly, Murray goes into the defence of his Cincinnati title with the best win-loss ratio on the tour, 50-7.
In Sunday's final, Murray withstood two sets and two hours of ferocious hitting from Juan Martin del Potro before a devastating twist which drained the remaining energy from his tiring opponent.
Del Potro, the magnificent 6ft 6in tall Argentine, was feeling the strain of a second successive final, having won at Washington the previous week. He had also played the second semi-final the night before, saving match point to beat Andy Roddick, which was a distinct disadvantage coming into a 1.30pm final.
He gave everything for two sets, clearly believing he had to win the match in straight sets to have a chance, and as we entered the second-set tie-break it was pretty obvious the match would be decided on these few points.
The big moment was with Murray leading 4-3 as Del Potro slammed his way on to the offensive. Murray, seemingly finished in the point, put up a high lob and Del Potro smashed. Incredible scrambling saw Murray get a racket on the ball once more and the rally was alive again. Then, as he does so often, he turned defence into attack, won the point and effectively the match.
Tempted as he must have been to retire at the end of that arduous second set, body aching and enthusiasm drained by that stunning tie-break exchange, Del Potro admirably fought on until the end and must be congratulated for that.
With an ace fired down the centre of the court, Murray became the first British man to win this Canadian tournament in more than a hundred years. And so began the obligatory round of interviews, including one with his former coach Brad Gilbert, a world record-beating autograph session, polite poses for photos and then the reception back in the players' lounge. A long day, a good week, job done.
The following morning, the ATP ranking list was released and Murray saw himself sitting pretty at number two. He is the first man other than Federer or Nadal to get to number two since Lleyton Hewitt more than four years ago. Incredible.
Just a couple of years ago, as Murray was coming out of juniors, the question to anyone and everyone in tennis was "how good do you think he can be?" And the general consensus seemed to be "definitely top 10".
He duly arrived there in April 2007, climbed into the top five in September 2008, edged up to three in May 2009 and now he is one place off the summit.
Nobody was brave enough to suggest he could get that high back in 2005 and, if he is honest, Murray has probably even surprised himself.
In what is fast becoming one of the strongest eras for men's tennis (with a truly world-class top six at the moment and two of the best players of all-time) this is a staggering achievement and one which should be celebrated the length and breadth of the country.
Can he get to number one? Absolutely he can.
But holding on to number two will be hard enough with Nadal returning from injury and Del Potro looking like the best bet for a long-term rival. Murray knows he needs to win a major soon to consolidate his ranking.
The US Open arrives at the end of August and if he reaches the final for a second successive year, he will benefit from the experience of 12 months ago when he was punished by Federer.
After all, here is a young man who has clearly learned from his mistakes over the four short years of his professional career. If he hadn't, he wouldn't be two in the world right now.
So farewell Montreal, this enchanting island city, and congratulations for becoming the first one-week ATP tournament to sell 200,000 tickets.
My only wish, when we return in 2010, is that a fairer weekend schedule is introduced, with either a later final on the Sunday or back-to-back semis on Saturday afternoon, to avoid a repeat of Del Potro's final-set exhaustion.