Uneasy: Andy Murray has been training with his usual intensity. Photo: Reuters
On Friday night a banqueting suite at the Waldorf Astoria played host to arguably the greatest array of tennis talent ever assembled in one room. No fewer than 19 world No.1s turned up, and the older men made a point of congratulating the three youngest - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic - on representing their sport so well.
Where was Andy Murray in all this hoopla, which was convened to mark the 40th anniversary of the ATP rankings system? Not invited, and not mentioned.
His highest position, remember, is No.2. And that epitomises his low-key week so far. Murray may be coming back to New York as the reigning US Open champion. But with Nadal's latest resurgence, Federer's alarming slump, and even the publication of Djokovic's eccentric recipe book, there has been surprisingly little fuss around him in the build-up.
Murray will feel pressure when he faces Michael Llodra in the opening round, of course. ''I would expect to be very nervous,'' he admits, ''because it is a new experience for me. I have never come into a slam as defending champion so it's different, and when you haven't experienced something before it makes you a bit uneasy or uncertain.''
Yet it is not as if he arrives as the runaway favourite. Djokovic remains more than 2000 points ahead of the field on the rankings ladder. Nadal has reached the final of 11 out of the 12 events he has entered this year. The chances are that Murray would have to beat them both in successive matches to retain his crown, a feat he has never performed before. Should he manage it, the tennis world will be almost as surprised as it was when he broke his grand slam duck 12 months ago.
On his return to Arthur Ashe Stadium just over a week ago, Murray found his mind flashing back to that stormy night when his control of the ball never wavered.
''It was good to come here and go back out on to the centre court for the first time because last year I was so relieved at the end that I don't feel like I really enjoyed it as much as I should have done,'' he says. ''It was the same thing at Wimbledon. I went back there six or seven days afterwards and I was just there on the court by myself and actually getting to enjoy that moment.''
Over the intervening days Murray has been back on Ashe every day, training with his usual intensity.
At least Murray has a relatively kind route to the last eight, with Juan Monaco, a grinding Argentine clay-courter, and Nicolas Almagro, a Spaniard with a flowing backhand but a shortage of conviction, as the minor seeds in his section of the draw.
Unless someone scores an upset, he will not meet an opponent younger than himself until Djokovic in the semi-final - and even then the difference in age is only a fortnight.